Tag Archives: Documentation
Field Methods

Keren Rice – University of Toronto
Course time: Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday 3:30-5:20
2437 Mason Hall
Note: This class may count for double credit.

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This course is an introduction to linguistic field methods. We will work with a speaker of a language that none of us know, endeavoring to discover as much as possible about the structure of the language, at all levels – phonetic, phonological, morphological, syntactic, semantic – through a combination of structured questioning and working with texts that we will record from the speaker. The emphasis will be on how to discover the systematicity of an unknown language on its own terms.

Prerequisite: Background in linguistics. Students should be able to transcribe, do morphological analysis, and syntactic analysis.

Recommended co-requisite: Tools for Language Documentation (Claire Bowern)

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Gesture and Gestural Documentation

Mandana Seyfeddinipur – The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 11:00 am – 12:50 pm
2427 Mason Hall

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In the past ten years the study of hand gestures has become an established area of investigation in different disciplines. This course will provide an introduction to theoretical and methodological issues in manual gesture research. The course will provide a solid foundation for further research into the phenomenon by the course participants. We will explore the role of manual gesture in language, culture and cognition and provide hands on training in methods in gesture research. The basic functions of gesture in communication, its interaction with speech in the creation of meaning as well as its role in cognition will be introduced. One focus will be how to document gesture in actual language use doing fieldwork.  In the practical component participants will learn how to record gesture data in naturalistic as well as in experimental settings. In addition the course will provide the opportunity to learn how to annotate and code gesture with available software. Participants are encouraged to bring their own recordings for annotation and analyses. Some familiarity with general linguistics is presumed.

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Semantic Fieldwork Methods

Judith Tonhauser – Ohio State University
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 1:30-3:20 pm
2347 Mason Hall

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This course introduces participants to the methodology of collecting semantic/pragmatic data in collaboration with linguistically untrained native speaker consultants.

Data that may inform semantic/pragmatic theorizing are typically quite complex, consisting of 1) one or more grammatical sentences that are 2) uttered in an appropriately designed context, and 3) a native speaker’s judgment about the acceptability or the truth of the sentence(s) uttered in that context.

The goal of the course is to familiarize students with the empirical, theoretical and methodological considerations relevant to obtaining such data. In particular, topics to be discussed include the kinds of judgments obtainable from native speakers, distinguishing syntactically ill-formed from semantically/pragmatically anomalous sentences/utterances, the importance of context and how to appropriately control for it, reporting semantic/pragmatic data, and the generalizability of results.

The course also examines the benefits of and difficulties with exploring semantic/pragmatic research questions through texts. The relative merits of one-on-one elicitation and controlled experiments with linguistically untrained native speakers are also considered.

Although much of the data provided for in-class discussion comes from Paraguayan Guaraní (Tupí-Guaraní), in particular studies of temporal and nominal reference, and of presuppositions and other projective contents, the course aims to prepare participants to conduct semantic/pragmatic fieldwork on any topic in any language. Note that this course does not have a regular practical component during which course participants work with a native speaker consultant; Professor Keren Rice’s field methods course (http://lsa2013.lsa.umich.edu/2012/05/field-methods/) is highly recommended for this purpose.

This course is targeted at students already familiar with formal syntax, semantics and pragmatics who wish to collect data with native speakers, as well as students who already have experience in conducting research with native speakers and want to extend their research to semantic/pragmatic topics. Interested course participants should contact the instructor (judith@ling.osu.edu) with questions about the course content and suitability.

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Tools for Language Documentation

Claire Bowern – Yale University
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 9:00-10:50 am
2330 Mason Hall

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This four-week course will cover a selection of the software, hardware, and stimulus kits/surveys which are most useful in documenting languages. The course will begin with an overview of software tools for organizing language data, including Toolbox and Elan, and hardware (e.g. audio and video recorders) for making recordings. Week 2 will focus on tools related to grammatical documentation (e.g. in the writing of reference grammars) and will include the use of structured stimulus kits, questionnaires, and tools for organizing transcripts and analytical data. Week 3 will focus on corpus planning and the collection of narratives and conversational data. Week 4 will concentrate on software and techniques for lexical elicitation, along with collection archiving. Each class will have a practical component and class participants are encouraged to bring their own data sets; however, data samples will also be available for those who need them. Some familiarity with general linguistics is presumed.

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