This paper explores issues of orthographic representation in two different projects, in two different locations, and draws some general conclusions about the role of an outsider linguistic anthropologist in working with individuals and their data. One project involved helping Cousin Joe, a blues singer from New Orleans, to edit his autobiography for publication. The other project involved developing a bilingual, bidirectional, Shinzwani-English dictionary for the Comoro Islands. Each project required an awareness of-and sensitivity to-the cultural and political implications of orthographic decisions.

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