Linguistic Field Methods

Subject LING40006 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

Credit Points: 25
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2014.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 4 hours per week
Total Time Commitment:

4 contact hours/week, 11 additional hours/week. Total of 15 hours per week.


LING20005 Phonetics and LING20006 Syntax



Recommended Background Knowledge:

If not admitted to Honours or PG Diploma in Linguistics or Applied Linguistics, students are recommended to have contacted the subject coordinator prior to enrolling in the subject.

Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Objectives, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and the Disability Liaison Unit:

Subject Overview:

This subject instructs students on how to analyse an unknown language, working 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).

Learning Outcomes:
  • have learnt the main techniques for analysing an unknown language on its own terms, from primary data.
  • be acquainted with relevant software packages to support fieldwork research.
  • be familiar with practical, personal and ethical issues of linguistic fieldwork.

Two data-based analytical assignments totalling 4000 words (40%) due throughout the semester, 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, 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).

This subject has the following hurdle requirements:

  • Regular participation in tutorials is required with a minimum of 75% attendance.
  • All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day and in-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked.

Prescribed Texts:
  • A set of readings 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.
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.
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Linguistics and Applied Linguistics

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