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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 Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryIn order to investigate undocumented linguistic phenomena, we need to be sensitive to unexpected pieces of data, and to then proceed to examine them. In this course, the student is acquainted with this process by experiencing first-hand the cycle of confusion and hypothesis-testing in the data collection sessions. The lectures and the readings support this process, by offering insight into the range of language structures at different levels of the grammar.

The course covers the following general topics: (1) approaches and issues in fieldwork data collection; (2) analysing the sound system of an unfamiliar language; (3) analysing the morphosyntax of an unfamiliar language. These topics are explored through lectures, data collection sessions with a native-speaker consultant, readings, and two project papers.
Course description Week 1: Introduction and getting ready for first session
Reading: Vaux & Cooper pp. 37-45 (chapter 3 Basic lexicography); Payne pp. 111-128 (chapter 6 Predicate nominals and related constructions)
Monday - lecture
Wednesday - lecture
Thursday - data collection

Week 2: The sound system / nouns and noun phrases
Reading: Two Illustration of the IPA papers (Tuttle & Sandoval 2002, Remijsen & Manyang 2009)
Monday - data collection
Wednesday - lecture
Thursday - data collection

Week 3: The sound system / nouns and noun phrases
Reading: Payne pp. 192-110 (chapter 5 Noun and noun phrase operations)
Monday - data collection
Wednesday - lecture
Thursday - data collection

Week 4: The sound system / nouns and noun phrases
Reading: Payne pp. 32-70 (chapter 3 Grammatical categories)
Monday - data collection
Wednesday - lecture
Thursday - data collection

Week 5
Reading: Matthewson (2004)
No lecture or data collection sessions

Week 6: The verb system
Reading: Payne pp. 129-139 (sections 7.1 and 7.2 of chapter 7 Grammatical relations), plus revision of chapter 8 Voice and valence adjusting operations [familiar from LEL2D]
Monday - data collection
Wednesday - lecture
Thursday - data collection

Week 7: The verb system
Reading: Payne pp. 223-260 (chapter 9 Other verb and verb-phrase operations)
Monday - data collection
Wednesday - lecture
Thursday - data collection

Week 8: The verb system
Reading: [to be determined later]
Monday - data collection
Wednesday - lecture
Thursday - data collection

Week 9
Reading: Dryer (2006)
Monday - data collection
Wednesday - lecture
Thursday - data collection

Week 10
Reading: Woodbury (2003)
Monday - data collection
Wednesday - lecture
Thursday - data collection
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: LEL2A: Linguistic Theory and the Structure of English (LASC08017) AND ( LEL2B: Phonetic Analysis and Empirical Methods (LASC08018) OR LEL2E: Structure and History of European Languages (LASC08021))
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have completed at least 3 Linguistics/Language Sciences courses at grade B or above . We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 27, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 169 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 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%).

The shorter paper is approx. 1500-2000 words long. It is returned with feedback so that this can inform linguistic analysis and academic writing in the final project paper. 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 during the course. It is 3500-4000 words long.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
This course prepares the participants for linguistic fieldwork. To that end, the course goals are:
(1) to familiarize the participants with two data collection techniques: controlled elicitation and text analysis;
(2) to accustom the participants to independently process and analyze linguistic data;
(3) to enable the participants to develop a descriptive analysis through a dialectic between data collection and reflection upon those data.
Reading List
Dryer, Matthew S. (2006). Descriptive theories, explanatory theories, and basic linguistic theory. In Felix Ameka, Alan Dench, & Nicholas Evans (eds.) Catching language: issues in grammar writing. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Matthewson, Lisa (2004). On the methodology of semantic fieldwork. International Journal of American Linguistics 70, 369-415.

Payne, Thomas E. (1997). Describing Morphosyntax: A guide for field linguists. Cambridge University Press.

Remijsen, Bert & Caguor Adong Manyang (2009). Luanyjang Dinka. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 39(1), 113-124. [please use the version with embedded sound examples]

Tuttle, Siri & Merton Sandoval (2002) Jicarilla Apache. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 32(1), 105-112.

Vaux, Bert & Justin Cooper (1999). Introduction to linguistic field methods. Lincom Europe.

Woodbury, Tony (2003). Defining documentary linguistics. Language Documentation and Description 1, 35-51.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills In this course the students develop several skills that are of relevant outside the study of linguistics: (1) collecting, processing, and analysing original qualitative data; (2) to solve problems through critical analysis of original data.
Additional Class Delivery Information 1. Sessions with native-speaker consultant
The sessions with a native-speaker consultant constitute the backbone of the course. Active participation is essential here ┐ it is up to the students themselves to elicit most of the data. These sessions make up two thirds of the total contact time. In these sessions, the participants elicit data from a native speaker of an unfamiliar language, and analyse narrative material with the native speaker┐s assistance. The students themselves prepare the material to be elicited before the session. Recordings are made at several points, to support the analysis of the sound system and the grammar, and also to have a narrative to use for text analysis.

Initially, the students elicit words in isolation and in simple sentences. When they have developed an understanding of the fundamentals of the sound system, the investigation shifts towards the morphology and syntax of the language, and the constructions become more varied and complex. At some point along the way, we start with text analysis, which provides data that are complementary to the material collected through controlled elicitation.

Performance in the elicitation sessions is part of the assessment (cf. below). In order to perform well in these sessions, the students need to carefully process and analyse the material collected in each session, as soon as possible after the end of the session. This analytic work should then inform the preparation of materials to be collected in the following session.

2. Lectures and readings
The third of the three weekly contact hours is a lecture. Along with the weekly required reading, the lectures support the discovery process in the data collection sessions, and stimulate the linguistic analysis of the resulting data. For example, if there is evidence of lexical specification of tone, the next lecture may offer an introduction on how to investigate tone, and background information on this topic. The lecture is also used to offer feedback and advice on elicitation performance.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Albert Remijsen
Tel: (0131 6)50 6657
Course secretaryMs Lynne Robertson
Tel: (0131 6)50 9870
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