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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 this course, students gain expertise in methodologies that enable them to study linguistic phenomena first-hand, using data that they themselves collect from a native-speaker consultant and then proceed to process and analyse. Through sessions with a native speaker of an unfamiliar language, the students experience the stages of discovery, confusion, and hypothesis-testing that are inherent to the study of undocumented language phenomena. The lectures and the readings support this process, by offering insight into a wide 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 morphology, syntax, and semantics 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 There are two main components to this course: data collection sessions (two classes per week) and discussion sessions (one class per week).
The data collection sessions with a native speaker consultant form the backbone of this course. Active participation is essential here. Initially, students take turns eliciting data from the speaker. It is the responsibility of each student to plan their data collection, and to analyse the data. These sessions will be recorded, and the data will be made available to all students after the session. The class works together to process, store, and distribute the data. Towards the end of the course, students work with the speaker to analyse a naturalistic text in the target language, which complements the elicited data.

In the discussion sessions, the class meets without the native speaker consultant. The format of these sessions varies, depending on what challenges the data present. For example, we might discuss possible analyses of the data, formulate hypotheses, and plan what data we could collect to choose between competing hypotheses. Sometimes there may be mini-lectures on a particular phenomenon that we have come across in the target language, to help guide students in their analysis of the data.

The classes are supplemented by additional weekly readings, which will help to broaden and deepen students┬┐ skills in data collection and analysis.
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)) AND ( LEL2D: Cross-linguistic Variation: Limits and Theories (LASC08020) OR LEL2E: Structure and History of European Languages (LASC08021))
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have a good background in linguistic theory, sufficient to take LEL Honours courses. They should have completed at least 3 Linguistics/Language Sciences courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses. Courses in the structure of a foreign language (including English) are unlikely to suffice, but this will depend on the circumstances; please consult the CO if unsure.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
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 (10%); a short paper outlining the sound system of the target language, halfway through the course (35%); a longer project paper at the end of the course (55%). The shorter paper is 1500-2000 words long. The final project paper is a descriptive analysis of a topic in the sound system, morphology, syntax, or semantics of the target language, based on original data collected during the course. It is 3000-3500 words long.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  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
Many of the readings come from the following texts:

Payne, Thomas, 1997. Describing morphosyntax: A guide for field linguists. New York: Palgrave Macmillan

Bowern, Claire, 2015. Linguistic fieldwork: A practical guide. Second edition. New York: Palgrave Macmillan

Other readings will be made available at the beginning of the course, via the Resource List on Learn.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Data analysis: The students are responsible for the processing and analysis of their raw session notes after each of the elicitation sessions, and this work is critical to the quality of the project papers.

Teamwork: a) The students are responsible for the recording, storage, processing, and distribution of audio data; b) The students work together during the elicitation sessions.

Social skills / cross-cultural communication: The native speaker consultant is typically from a non-Western background. The students establish and develop a social relationship with the speaker.

Effort and diligence: The course has a relatively high workload, and the various tasks (preparing materials for elicitation, processing of data) need to happen on a regular basis for analytic insight to develop.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Albert Remijsen
Tel: (0131 6)50 6657
Course secretaryMs Susan Hermiston
Tel: (0131 6)50 3440
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