LING-404 Field Methods
Spring for 2010-2011
Prof. S. Sara, S.J. I.C.C. 455 Fall 2011 Class: M-W 4:15-5:30 p.m.
O.hs: (ICC 455) M-W ICC 221A
by appointment: anytime
Goals of the Course: This course will simulate the situation of a field linguist, as we attempt to understand the structure of an unfamiliar language. The class will elicit
data orally from a native speaker, the students transcribe the utterances, submit them to analysis and thus develop skills of linguistic analysis as we cumulatively proceed through phonological, morphological and syntactic topics. The aim of the course
will be to produce a mini grammar of the language with its phonology, morphology and syntax
Procedures of Elicitation and Analysis: In general, every class will begin with an elicitation session. We will prepare lists of materials and work with the informant as a group, with each student preparing her/his own transcriptions. This will be followed by a period in which we discuss the analyses of the previous class’ materials. At the end of each class we will again consult the informant on topics which have arisen during the discussion. There will be frequent oral and written progress reports on the class work, and a final report on the language. Adjustments
along the way will be made as the need aries.
Intended Audience for the Course: The course is open to undergraduate and
graduate students. Prerequisites for this course are basic linguistic courses. Linguistics 404 will be useful to any student who foresees doing fieldwork in any area of linguistics; we all end up doing some field work. It may also be attractive to those students who simply wish to experience the unmediated contact with an
unknown language and culture. Finally, those interested in any area(s) of theoretical linguistics will find the challenge of confronting an unknown language to provide
excellent practice for their analytical skills.
Language: Spoken Semitic language like Hebrew or Arabic. The choice of
language is significant. Semitic structure is different from Indo-European, so this gives one a fresh experience of an unknown structure and its complexity. The preferred choice of a language will be the least studied dialect of the language which
gives one more freedom not to be beholden to previous analyses.
Short description: The course will simulate the situation of a field linguist, as we attempt to understand the structure of an unfamiliar language. The class will elicit
data orally from a native speaker, and students will develop skills of linguistic analysis as the class cumulatively proceeds through phonological, morphological and
syntactic topics. The aim is to sharpen one’s linguistic skills and in the process to produce an explanatory description of as much of the language as possible.
Prerequisites for the class are: interest and any basic phonetics, phonology, morphology and syntax courses. The course is open to undergraduate and graduate
students. The time frame is that each of the three language components will be given its equal share of time.
Bowern, Clair. 2008. Linguistic Fieldwork: A practical Guide. New York: Palgrave.
Bouquiax, Luc and J.M.C. Thomas. 1992. Studying and Describing languages. SIL
Burling, Robins. 1984. Learning a Field Language. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan
Comrie, Bernard and Norval Smith. 1977. Lingua Descriptive Studies: Questionnaire.
Lingua 42. 1-72, not a textbook but a guide to describing data.
Crowley, Terry. 2007. Field Linguistics: A Beginner’s Guide. New York: Oxford.
Kibrik, A. K. 1977. Methodology of Field Investigation in Linguistics. The Hague:
Ladefoged, P. 2003. Phonetic Data Analysis: An Introduction to Fieldwork and
Instrumental Phonetics. New York: Blackwell
Newman, Paul, and Martha Ratliff. 2001. Linguistic Fieldwork: New York:
Pike, Kenneth. 1947. Phonemics: A Technique for Reducing Languages to Writing.
Ann Arbor: The Univ. of Michigan Press.
Samarin, William. 1967. Field Linguistics: A Guide to Linguistic Field Work. New
York: Holt Rinehart and Winston.
Vaux, Bert and Justin Cooper. 1999. Introduction to Linguistic Field Methods.
Munchen: Lincom Europa.
Other academic years
There is information about this course number in other academic years: