My grandmother's first language is nearly extinct. I'd like to record an interview with her for archival purposes; how should I go about it?
My grandmother, a Turkish Sephardi, is a native speaker of Ladino
(a.k.a. Judaeo-Spanish). Centuries ago, Ladino was one of the most widely spoken languages among the world's Jews, perhaps the
most widely spoken. There aren't many speakers left, though -- only 100,000 worldwide, and only 300 in the United States. Worse, all (or essentially all) Ladino speakers are elderly. In 30 years, the language will likely be extinct.
I stumbled upon this comment
a few weeks ago:
Seriously, if you have any language data sitting around, even if it is your grandpa speaking Navajo, please send it to the OLAC archive.
and it piqued my interest in getting a recording of my grandma speaking Ladino while she's still around. She's enthusiastic about the idea, and we're planning an interview for the next time we see each other.
I'd like to know how to approach this in the most useful manner. Specifically, I'd like to know:
- Should I study field linguistics techniques before doing this, or would that be unhelpful for the casual, conversational recording we want to make?
- What questions should I ask her to elicit the best responses (in terms of content)? Does anyone here know what aspects of spoken Ladino are well-documented and which could use more data? (I realize that second part is a bit of a longshot, but it couldn't hurt to ask -- the broad range of expertise on display here always surprises me.)
- As noted in the Chabad article above, many Ladino speakers no longer have a great command of the language. My grandmother might well fall into this category; she spoke it at home growing up, but hasn't used it as her primary language for almost sixty years. That said, would a recording still be valuable?
- Where exactly should I send it? Alison's comment, quoted above, says "the OLAC archive," but OLAC is a collection of separate archives. This gateway webpage exhorts anyone with data to sign up as an archive, but, with only one recording, shouldn't I be submitting it to a larger collection instead?
- Am I somehow, in general, going about this all wrong?
I'm linguistically literate, but far from an expert, so advice from anyone with linguistics experience (particularly field lingustics) is especially appreciated. Thanks in advance for your input.