Field Methods in Linguistics - Writing Intensive

English 4670W/7670
Section 1
Michael Marlo

At a time when minority languages are dwindling and becoming extinct, language documentation is more important than ever. This course has two main pedagogical goals, related to the documentation of understudied languages. The first goal is to train students on the methods of eliciting and evaluating data to construct a detailed linguistic description and analysis of a language that the students do not know, essentially from scratch, by working with a native speaker of the language. The second goal is for students to discover specific details of the structure of the language under investigation. 

Virtually all of our class time will be spent as a ‘lab’, in which we interview a native speaker of this language, eliciting original linguistic data. Initially, we will concentrate on collecting vocabulary, learning how to transcribe the data, and investigating simple morphology (word structure) and syntax (sentence structure). As we progress through the term and become more proficient in transcribing longer utterances, we will emphasize the structure of words and elementary syntax, and we will survey various aspects of the language to develop an outline of the grammar of the language and to see which areas may prove worthy of further investigation. In the final quarter of the term, we will focus on specific research projects in which students delve deeper into some aspect of the structure of the language.