Nick Corduan (nickc@DORITE.IQUEST.NET)
Fri, 7 Apr 1995 18:47:25 -0500


I am a student so you must take what I say with a grain of salt, as I am not a
veteran in the active field. However, I do have some comments and some
information for you . . .

First of all, the topic of transalting aboriginal languages is a very complex
one, and there can be no fool-proof method. Without getting "into" the mind
of a person, you cannot really know what they are saying -- or implying. And
you cannot truly get "into" someone's mind without knowing their language.
My experience with this is with the language of Mochica (i.e. "Lengua
Yunga"), a language spoken formerly by the Chimu of Peru. It still exists in
small villages in old Chimu territory, and various people have taken
linguistic samples and surveys in time periods separate by three or four
centuries. Anyway, the thrust of my point is this: when Carrera pointed to
women in the 17th century and got the same word as he got for "wife," it
could simply be a matter of a Chimu connotation. However, when Larco Hoyle
gets the same result in the 20th century, things become more concrete. It's
very hard, in other words, for one person to adequately do this.

Another warning about the linguistic side is that, as Saussure pointed out,
quite correctly: you cannot successfully analyze a language while keeping
alot of historical back-ground in mind. The individuals who speak a languag
do not speak it with an evolutionary process in mind, and the linguist should
not study it in this mannder.

I realize that the linguistics was only a side-issue for your greater point,
however. For further help in ethnographics methods, I can suggest to you the
out-of-print book *Ethnoarchaeology*, edited by Christopher B. Donnan. Also,
the book *Wizard of the Four Winds*, while dealing with one speicifc case,
can be of great service.

But *Ethnoarchaeology* is a MUST! <g>

Nick Corduan