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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Language Sciences

Undergraduate Course: Linguistic Fieldwork and Language Description (LASC10050)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeStandard AvailabilityAvailable to all students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) Credits20
Home subject areaLanguage Sciences Other subject areaNone
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionThis course prepares the participants for linguistic fieldwork. To that end, the course aims (1) to familiarize the participants with relevant data collection techniques; (2) to prepare them to independently process and analyze the resulting data; (3) to develop a descriptive analysis through a continuous dialectic between data collection and reflection upon those data.

There are several ways to collect data in a fieldwork situation, such as controlled elicitation (i.e., question-answer session with one or more informants); collection and analysis of a corpus of spontaneous speech; and participant observation. In this course, students will learn to investigate a language using the first two of the approaches.

Collecting data on previously undocumented linguistic phenomena comes down to being sensitive to notice the unexpected, and to then proceed to examine it. In this course, the student is prepared for this challenge by experiencing the cycle of confusion and hypothesis-testing in the elicitation sessions, and by learning about the range of variation at different levels of the grammar, through the lectures and required readings.
This course offers students the opportunity to develop several skills that are of great value outside the study of linguistics: (1) processing, analysing and summarising data; (2) to solve problems through critical analysis; (3) to interact with somebody from a different ethnic and socio-cultural background, with whom they may have limited common ground at the outset.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( Linguistics 2A (LASC08006) AND Linguistics 2B (LASC08013)) OR ( Linguistics 2A (LASC08006) AND Linguistics 2Lh: Structure and History of the Western European Languages (LASC08007))
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 Linguistics/Language Sciences courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
Displayed in Visiting Students Prospectus?No
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
The course aims:
(1) to familiarize the participants with the practice of controlled elicitation and other fieldwork data collection techniques;
(2) to prepare them to independently collect and analyze previously unavailable linguistic data, and to write up the resulting findings.
Assessment Information
The course is assessed in three ways:

participation in elicitation sessions (20%);
a short paper outlining the sound system of the target language (20%);
a longer project paper at the end of the course (60%) 3500 words.

Submission deadlines are 22 of October for the short paper and 3 of December for the final project paper.
The shorter paper is approx. 1500-2000 words long. It will be returned with feedback by 5 of November so that this feedback can inform linguistic analysis and academic writing in the final project submission. The final project paper presents a descriptive analysis of a topic in the sound system or the morphosyntax of the target language, on the basis of data collected in
the elicitation sessions.

Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus Not entered
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list Required readings come from:

Clements, G. N. (2000). Phonology. In Bernd Heine & Derek Nurse (eds.) African languages an introduction. Cambridge University Press, 123-160.
Evans, Nicholas & Stephen C. Levinson (2009). The myth of language universals: Language diversity and its importance for cognitive science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32, 429-492.
Gil, David (2001). Escaping Eurocentrism: fieldwork as a process of unlearning. In Paul Newman & Martha Ratliff (eds.) Linguistic Fieldwork. Cambridge University Press, 102-132.
Payne, Thomas E. (1997). Describing Morphosyntax: A guide for field linguists. Cambridge University Press.
Vaux, Bert & Justin Cooper (1999). Introduction to linguistic field methods. Lincom Europe.
Remijsen, Bert & Caguor Adong Manyang (2009). Luanyjang Dinka (Illustrations of the IPA). Journal of the International Phonetic Association 39(1), 113-124.
Woodbury, Tony (2003). Defining documentary linguistics. Language Documentation and Description 1, 35-51.

Here are some suggestions for optional further reading. If you are interested to learn more about linguistic fieldwork without an immediate goal, then the Newman & Ratliff volume is my top recommendation.
Dixon, R.M.W. (1997). The rise and fall of languages. Cambridge University Press. [An introduction to issues in language diversity, aimed at a general-interest audience.]
Evans, Nicholas (2010). Dying words: endangered languages and what they have to tell us. Wiley-Blackwell. [If you liked the Evans & Levinson paper in the required readings, then you probably will enjoy this book. It approaches language diversity from a variety of angles. Very accessibly written.]
Hyman, Larry (2010). How to Study a Tone Language, with exemplification from Oku (Grassfields Bantu, Cameroon). 2010 Annual report of the Berkeley Phonology Lab, 179-209. [A how-to guide to the study of an undocumented tone system.]
Kutsch-Lojenga, Constance (1996). Participatory research in linguistics. Notes on linguistics 73:13-27. [This paper is available online from LinguaLinks. It shows how linguistic analysis can be developed in a process in which the language community has a prominent role. This approach is widely used in linguistic research within SIL International, but it has also become more prevalent in the academic context, where there is nowadays an emphasis on involving communities and on making linguistic research as widely relevant as possible.]
Newman, Paul & Martha Ratliff (eds.) (2001). Linguistic Fieldwork. Cambridge University Press. [Inspired personal accounts by experienced fieldwork linguists. It offers valuable best-practice recommendations for data collection.]
Sakel, Jeanette & Daniel L. Everett (2012). Linguistic Fieldwork. Cambridge University Press. [The title is the same as the publication above, but the content is quite different. Sakel & Everett try to comprehensively cover the practical aspects of doing fieldwork.]
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Albert Remijsen
Tel: (0131 6)50 6657
Course secretaryMs Stephanie Fong
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