How Computers Can Do Fieldwork For You: A Case Study—Chit Fullah SpecGram Vol CLVIII, No 4 Contents Mid. after-Nguyen Knap—A Brief Ontogenical Sketch—Mandy O. Chyryry

The Prudent Fieldworker’s Guide to Preparation and Packing

Part I: General Tips, Northern Europe, North America, North Africa and the Middle East

by Professor Athanasious Schadenpoodle

[Editor’s Note: While Prof. Schadenpoodle has, to our knowledge, only gone on two excursions, he is quite famous in our field for his awareness of, and proactive preparation for, hazards. On six separate occasions, campus security has had to rescue students who inadvertently triggered the defensive perimeter around his office, and two hapless sophomores spent over three days lost in the steam tunnels under the campus trying to find it in the first place.]

Fieldwork has long been the lifeblood of our disciplinewe rely upon our far-flung native-speaker coworkers to provide the data that validate our theories, even as we ourselves have the job of weeding out all the data that don’t. However, the same fieldwork that serves as our lifeblood can also spill it, as the world outside habitable academic environments is a harsh, unforgiving place, devoid of both safety and espresso, and ofttimes swarming with venomous insects or vicious sloths.1

Suitable preparation cannot avert all harm, but it can ameliorate a host of problems, particularly if the exact characteristics of the fieldwork locale are taken into account. Clearly, some threats are more prevalent in one area of the globe than anothermalaria, for example, is endemic only in the more tropical regions, while French pop music rarely escapes its home country. Below, I shall provide some initial recommendations, keyed to particular circumstances, that should make your life much easier (or even prolong it).

General Travel

General Notes: The safest strategy for general travel, of course, is to create a ten- to fifteen-foot radius free of all forms of life around yourself, while ensuring you have a separate air, water, and food supply. This may be difficult to accomplish, however, especially in Coach, so some measure of compromise is necessary. One can only look forward to the day when the careful fieldworker can use remote holographic projection for most work.

Common Threats:  Disease, injury, violence, travel-based ennui, American tourists, kidnapping.

Add to pack:

Northern Europe and North America

General Notes: These remain popular locales for fieldwork, partly because of the (erroneous) perception of comparative safety and partly because necessities such as coffee and air-conditioning are frequently accessible. They are concomitantly over-harvested, although more remote areas such as Albania or Manitoba remain comparatively pristine.

Common Threats:  Violence (particularly in the vicinity of English football games, or Chicago), Axiomatic Prescriptivists (U.S.), Björk (Iceland, parts of Scandinavia), forced consumption of bad alcohol (Russia), forced consumption of decent alcohol (Czech Republic), vowel depletion (former Yugoslavia), surströmming (Sweden), French pop music, porcupines (Northern U.S., Canada), Swiss warlords,2 American politicians.3

Add to pack:

North Africa and the Middle East

General Notes: These are much safer areas to do fieldwork in than they used to be (statistically, simply removing the Hittites decreases threat levels by 45%), and despite the fact that many of the dominant languages of the region are well-studied in general, there is much that needs to be investigated in regards to local dialect variation (which is enormous). A number of smaller language groups lack sufficient description at all, and there is always room to try to figure out what Maltese is really up to, and where it is hiding many of its vowels. Still, the area is by no means fully safe.

Common Threats:  Disease, injury, violence (both the regular and the sectarian sorts), hyperthermia, dehydration, prolonged harangues (both the regular and the sectarian sorts), titanic military-industrial snafus, high-speed traffic-seeking pedestrians (Egypt), crocodiles, high-speed pedestrian-seeking traffic (all cities), obesity/diabetes.

Add to pack:

[Part II will appear in the next issue of Speculative Grammarian. —Eds.]

1 Editor’s note: We don’t understand it, either, but it’s not a typo.

2 The fact that none of these have as yet been sighted is evidence only of their extreme cunning and stealth.

3 Decidedly less stealthy than Swiss warlords, and usually less cunningbut much better funded.

How Computers Can Do Fieldwork For You: A Case Study—Chit Fullah
Mid. after-Nguyen Knap—A Brief Ontogenical Sketch—Mandy O. Chyryry
SpecGram Vol CLVIII, No 4 Contents