Documentaries about language variation create a unique opportunity for linguists to collaborate with communities and producers in the representation of community language. At the same time, they present a series of challenges that extend from the selection of speakers who represent the community to the final editing decisions that ultimately reflect the producer’s interpretation of the subject matter. Productive collaboration involves input from the community in the conceptualization, the collection of footage, and the editing process. At the same time, producers, linguists, and community members may bring to the project different perspectives on language, different goals for the documentary, and different areas of knowledge and expertise that need to be accommodated. Linguists, producers, and the community can enable the collaborative base through adopting a set of strategies that include the selection of different community voices, restricted narration, limited use of outside experts, transparency in representing the recording process, and positive cultural framing of the community.
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