2015 Field Methods Class: documenting Taemi (PNG)
Field Methods is a class offered every second year by the School of Languages and Linguistics, for honours students. The subject provides students with the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of linguistic fieldwork, working with a native speaker of an underdocumented language, in a supported environment.
Semester two last year saw a group of dedicated students working with Gertrude Elai, a first-language Taemi speaker from Papua New Guinea, who was a student at the University of Melbourne for 2015. Taemi (or Tami) is an Austronesian language from Papua New Guinea, spoken in the Morobe provence, to the south of Lae. There has been very little work done on Taemi, and the field methods class worked with her with the goal of producing a dictionary and sketch grammar of the language. They also produced a Taemi version of the Frog Story book, which was printed and has been taken back by Gertrude to her community. When she received the copies of the book, Gertrude said: "I am over the moon, happy crying. This is so big for my people."