How to Get a Reputation as an Impressive Fieldworker
Sharing the secrets behind the successes
by Phil Dwork
For the very first time these secrets are being revealed outside the walls of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Freelinguists! I cannot stop the Freelinguists from using these techniques for their own purposes, but I can share them with the world to level the playing field of fieldwork. The steps to take to transform yourself into a world-renowned fieldworker are simple:
- Prepare to leave
- Buy a ticket to the Amazon (as corroborative evidence), but don’t actually go.
- Buy a ticket to some place nice where no one knows you, food and rent are cheap, and the weather is warm. Go there.
- Disappear for 5-7 years
- Spend about 3 months generating the most controversial data you can. Challenge dominant figures and their theories.
- Pay someone else to actually travel to the Amazon and take pictures of half-dressed stereotypically native-like individuals (or you could do it yourself).
- Party for the remaining 4.75 - 6.75 years.
- On your return
- Come up with an absurd-sounding name for your tribe/language, like Dasatay, Kixharyana, Ripahã, or some such.
- Present your controversial data at every conference you can.
- Write journal articles—a lot of journal articles.
- Controverse with eminent linguistic scholars and other loudmouths as often as possible.
- Bask in the glow of your new fame and/or tenure.
Repeat as necessary.
On the off chance that the result is not to your liking, not all is lost. You can always submit your data to a satirical linguistics journal. Look how famous and wealthy Claude Searsplainpockets has gotten doing that!