People who have studied or worked in the area of the languages or peoples you are researching may have the most current information that will help you assess intelligibility. Their knowledge may include direct and/or indirect information about intercomprehension, the areas in which particular lects are spoken, and written or personal sources of additional information. Keeping a list of such people may be useful to other language development workers or researchers.
Suggestions for Intelligibility Interviews
The following are questions for you to ask the person you are interviewing. When you see "X,Y,Z", it is intended to represent the multiple names for peoples and languages that you found in your earlier library research.
- To the best of your knowledge, where is X,Y,Z language spoken?
- Is there any other name for X,Y,Z people or X,Y,Z language that you’re aware of?
- What dialects or varieties of X,Y,Z are you aware exist? Approximately where are these spoken?
- How are these varieties different from one another (e.g. words, pronunciation, grammar)?
- Have you ever observed speakers of X,Y,Z speaking with one another? What language(s) do they use? How well do they seem to understand one another?
- To the best of your knowledge, how well do each of these groups understand one another? (After asking this question and similar ones, it may help to provide the interviewee with a scale of responses, e.g. "very well", "fairly well", or "not well at all".)
- Which groups in the general area are known to have frequent social and/or commercial interactions with one another? What sort of contact do they have?
- Are the speakers of any one of these lects more dominant culturally, politically, or economically?
- Are there any languages similar to X,Y,Z that are spoken in the area?
- Do you know of anyone else who might know something about X,Y,Z people and/or X,Y,Z language?
- Do you know of any books or articles that deal with X,Y,Z language and/or X,Y,Z culture?
Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of interview questions. These questions are intended to guide you in forming specific questions that are focused and phrased for the context of the interviewee and your environment. They may even inspire other questions relevant to your survey. You may wish to copy this list to another file in which you may add new questions or delete questions that seem inappropriate.
If you have any advice for improving or adding to this list, please edit this page to help the community.