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Simpson Library | Special Collections

LING 470S: Endangered Languages: Primary sources (firsthand evidence)

Using primary sources for this assignment

Here's an excerpt from the requirements for the annotated bibliography:

Most or all of your sources should be scholarly. Those that are not might provide some insight into the culture (e.g. in a work of literature), a quote from a native speaker (quoted in a newspaper or magazine article).

Work of literature and quotes from native speakers are examples of primary sources. Primary sources are useful because they provide evidence. You can analyze this evidence yourself, and/or talk about how other scholars analyze the evidence (in secondary sources).

Finding primary sources

Many primary sources are freely available online. Try these strategies to find them:

  • Imagine what a primary source for your topic would look like, and then type a general description into Google. For example, if you're doing a case study of the Cherokee language, you might type "Cherokee language documents" or "Cherokee language recording."
  • Alternatively, instead of typing a general description into Google, type the title of a particular primary source. You can find these titles listed in the citations in secondary sources.
  • Search in an online archive. Here are three online archives that I recommend. (Don't expect to find every language in these archives, though!)