Linguistic Field Methods

Subject 175-418 (2008)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2008.Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.500
Level: Undergraduate
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2008.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Three hours per week
Total Time Commitment: .
Prerequisites: Completion of 37.5 points of second/third-year linguistics and applied linguistics including and for third year. ,
Corequisites: .
Recommended Background Knowledge: .
Non Allowed Subjects: .
Core Participation Requirements: .


Prof Nick Evans
Subject Overview:

This subject instructs students on how to analyse an unknown language, working from scratch with a native speaker, as a class team. You will learn the main techniques for conducting such an analysis, ranging from phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics, applying them in consultation sessions with an actual speaker. These skills, taught through detailed work on the language chosen, generalise to those needed to analyse any unknown language on its own terms. Ethical issues, field research techniques, goals of linguistic documentation, and relevant software and Internet support, will also be covered through special workshops held during the semester. A different language is chosen each year: languages studied in the past have included Khmer, Vietnamese, Bugis (Sulawesi, Indonesia), Sasak (Lombok, Indonesia), Lau (Solomon Islands), Bisayan (Philippines), Acehnese (Aceh, Indonesia), Golin (PNG) and Ganalbingu (Australia).

Assessment: A preliminary analysis of the language of 2000 words 20% (due mid-semester), a 2000-word inter-linearised text transcription with commentary 20% (due in the later part of the semester), and a 4000-word analysis of a selected area of the language's grammar 40% (due at the end of the semester), and team contribution to the running of the research project such as maintaining the communal corpus, creating a web site illustrating key aspects of the research, maintaining the lexical database, or other tasks facilitating the research by the whole group, equivalent to 2000 words 20% (ongoing through the semester).
Prescribed Texts: A subject manual of articles dealing with specific issues of fieldwork (both linguistic, and anthropological fieldwork more generally) and documentary linguistics will be made available. According to the language selected for study, a series of orienting articles and/or books on related languages will be placed on reserve.Linguistic Field Work (P Newman & M Ratliff), CUP
Recommended Texts:


Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • develop their research ability by working out the logic and structure of unknown systems;

  • develop an understanding of social, ethical and cultural contexts through working with language speakers from quite different cultural backgrounds;

  • develop their teamwork abilities through working with other researchers.


Formerly available as 175-034/318/418. Students who have completed 175-034 or 175-318/418 are not eligible to enrol in this subject.

Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in Arts (Linguistics & Applied Linguistics)
Postgraduate Certificate in Arts(Linguistics and Applied Linguistics)
Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (Linguistics & Applied Linguistics)

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