The Baskeet Documentation Team

A very important outcome of my recent fieldtrip to Baskeet is my Baskeet Documentation Team. I found and trained two (part-time) assistants who are motivated to keep the ELDP-project (“Documentation of Baskeet song, verbal art and ceremonial language“) going when I am not in the field. This post is therefore meant to introduce my assistants, Ambaye Tsedeke and Sayed Ali, and their work to you:

Ambaye Tsedeke Tirfe

Ambaye Tsedeke Tirfe is presently director of the Saattsa Primary School (who is soon to be expanded into a Primary and High School). He grew up in the k’äbäle* of Awra Sosta . Apart from his native language Baskeet, Ambaye speaks Amharic and English fluently. He also has a good knowledge of Gofa.

Ambaye’s first responsibility in the ELDP documentation project is the data collection for a Baskeet-English dictionary, of which we hope to present a first good draft at the end of the project time. During my fieldtrip, I trained Ambaye on the project’s netbook in basic computer skills and in the conventions of a phonemic Latin-based orthography.** He will collect the lexemes for the dictionary (i) from the project’s audio-recordings, (ii) by searching his own native speaker’s brain, (iii) through brain-storming with other Baskeet speakers, (iii) through observation of how Baskeet people are speaking during daily activities etc. If you see someone taking out a piece of paper and a pencil in the middle of a conversation in the streets of Laska, then chances are good that you have met Ambaye ;-)

Ambaye’s second responsibility in the project are interviews with selected musicians whose song repertoire has been recorded earlier. Ambaye leads the interviews in Baskeet and speaks with his interview partners about their family history, their songs and their instruments, about how and from whom they learned their music (or certain songs), when and where they play, to whom they pass on their music etc. These interviews are audio- and/or video-recorded and constitute part of the documentation corpus (which means that they will be transcribed and translated in the course of the project). So far eight detailed interviews have been recorded.

The following picture shows Ambaye in an interview with Messele Lipaato – one of the most talented Baskeet musicians we have come across (more about Messele in a later post):

Ambaye Tsedeke and Messele Lipaato

Ambaye Tsedeke (left) interviewing the musician Messele Lipaato (right)

Sayed Ali Fayisa

My second assistant is Sayed Ali Fayisa, a Baskeet native speaker who grew up in the Saattsa-Maakessa k’äbäle of Baskeet. As a second language, he speaks Amharic. Sayed is presently working in the Office of Culture, Information and Tourism in Laska. Sayed has shown a keen interest in Baskeet oral traditions, especially songs, and Baskeet social and cultural history during my fieldtrip. He will therefore work on a song inventory, visit Baskeet neighbourhoods and communities that I was not able to visit last time, inquire about people who still sing and play music and inventorise their songs. Sayed will also assist Ambaye in the collection of cultural vocabulary. Last but not least, we will keep the wäräda*** administration informed about the progress of our project.

The following picture shows Sayed (right) together with Ambaye Tsadeke (left) and Takkaale Buro (middle) while watching a video interview that I recorded in the Culture Office (more about Takkaalo Buro, a gifted lyre musician from the Bonaara-Mark’anna k’äbäle, in a later post):

Interview with Takkaale Buro

Sayed Ali (right) and Ambaye Tsedeke (left) watching a video interview with Takkaalo Buro (middle)


* k’äbäle = smallest administrative unit, neighbourhood
** The Latin orthography can later be converted into the Ethiopian script if the speech community wishes to do so.
***wäräda = administrative unit about the k’äbäle
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One Response to The Baskeet Documentation Team

  1. Pingback: Publication on the Grammar of Questions in Baskeet | Basket to Ethiopia

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