LING-571 Sociolinguistic Field Methods
Fall for 2017-2018
This course will provide you with hands-on experience with methods for collecting data on language in its social context, for example, participant observation, sociolinguistic interviews, surveys, subjective reaction tests. You will learn about different methods in the context of a sociolinguistic study of a nearby community in which you will participate during the course of the semester. For example, students may participate in the Language and Communication in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area (LCDC) or Smith Island Voices, a study of dialect variation and change in rural Smith Island, MD. In addition, we will analyze short problems that can be addressed through the data. General topics related to the methods will be addressed, e.g. objectivity/subjectivity; community involvement; recording, managing, and transcribing data; strengths, weaknesses, and purposes of various approaches.

Course Goals:
The overall goals of the course include the following:
• Develop competence in the range of methods used to collect and analyze data in different areas of sociolinguistics
• Develop skills in observing, recording, and transcribing language in its social setting
• Review some major sociolinguistic field projects; design and conduct a small-scale community-based project in the local area that will connect to our larger departmental project, Language and Communication in the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Area (LCDC), or with the Smith Island Voices project.
• Be able to evaluate others’ research from a methodological standpoint
• Evaluate the appropriateness (and interdependence) of quantitative and qualitative methods
• Understand the interdependence of theory and method
• Examine the relationship between researchers and those who provide data
• Gain confidence in designing and conducting research projects
At the beginning of the semester, we will work as a class to identify several local communities of interest for sociolinguistic study. Working in teams, each of you will conduct a series of Field Projects in the community context. These projects will culminate in a final Mini Sociolinguistic Analysis of some aspect of the community of study. As you work, each individual will keep a Fieldwork Journal, to be submitted at the end of the semester. Following is more detail about the various course assignments:

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
More information
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