Alicia Beckford Wassink
Examines field methods linguists use in socially oriented studies of language variation and change. Students learn to target and design interviews appropriate for eliciting specific kinds of linguistic data. Discussion of issues related to recording, ethics, and analysis of large bodies of data. Prerequisite: LING 432. Offered: jointly with ANTH 433.
SPRING 2001 - This course is concerned with the field methods linguists use in socially-oriented studies of language variation and change. We will discuss, design and evaluate both ethnographic and linguistic interviews of a wide range of types, from the traditional dialectological to the various types used in sociolinguistics. This will involve the discussion of the nature and composition of a database, the identification and selection of informants, issues of ethics and cultural expectations, approaching informants and working with them. The main body of the course will be concerned with targeting and designing a wide range of interview types, from one-on-one focused to participant-observation in self-recruited groups. We will give special consideration to the design of materials used for eliciting large numbers of tokens (e.g., for specific changes in progress), concerns about the quality of data for various types of analysis, and how to move beyond word lists and reading passages. We will consider the challenges of rural and urban data collection, mono and multi-lingual communities, use of census and other materials for random and judgement sampling. We will explore the merits of using various types of recording equipment, and obtain some hands-on experience.
Class Assignments and Grading
The required work for this course is the write-up (15-20 pages) and presentation of one data-collection based project of the students choice.