Michael David Schwan
Gitxsan IPA Transcriptions
Gitxsan is the language spoken by the people of the Gitxsan Nation and is heavily featured in the opera Missing. Two people have been instrumental in ensuring that this language was honoured and accurate as written in the libretto and sung by the singers: Vincent Gogag (Gawa Gani) and Michael David Schwan.
Michael David Schwan is a Linguistics PhD Student at The University of British Columbia, doing primary fieldwork on the Gitxsan language. He has a Master of Arts in Linguistics from the University of Toronto and a BA in Linguistics from UBC
Aside from the work Vincent and Michael did in the construction of the show, they were essential in rehearsals. Singers often have to speak in foreign languages and use both native speakers and phonetic transcriptions of the language (IPA – International Phonetic Alphabet) to help them represent it accurately. In rehearsals, Vincent, the fluent speaker, helped the singers understand the flow and soul of the language. Michael, as a linguistics PhD student, helped coach accurate pronunciation from an articulatory standpoint. Both were instrumental, and the show would not sound the same without them.