Microphones are not firearms

Whenever I read tales of security issues linguists face (like when Anggarrgoon had fieldwork recordings impounded by US Customs), I just think I’m glad that doesn’t happen to me. Until now! I left Houston early Tuesday morning to head home to Alaska, where I’ll be spending Christmas and doing more Iñupiaq fieldwork.

That means my bag was chock-full of fieldwork equipment, including a Marantz recorder in my hand-held luggage and two external mics in a black case in my checked luggage. Apparently the TSA thinks that anything in a hard black case is a firearm, even if it says “Sound Professionals” on the outside. I assured them it wasn’t, but they didn’t take my word for it (which makes sense, I know). Eventually they let me check the bag in and I didn’t miss my flight. I wonder what sort of microphone case I could get that wouldn’t trip alarm bells?

Anyway, now I’m back in Anchorage and hoping to get started on fieldwork again as soon as possible, although I’ll have to allow for busy holiday schedules. Meanwhile, I’m starting to read through the 2005 Iñupiatun Eskimo Dictionary edited by Wolf Seiler. It has both pros and cons, but I can definitely say it’s the most thorough Iñupiaq dictionary out there. I look forward to reading through the rest of it.

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