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Field Methods


Admission requirements

  • A course in articulatory phonetics, such as the BA Taalwetenschap course ‘Klanken van de wereld’ (=‘Sounds of the World’) or an equivalent, is a prerequisite.
    Students with no previous training in articulatory phonetics are required to make up for this deficiency before or during the Field Methods course. Please contact the lecturer if you have questions.

  • A basic knowledge of linguistic concepts and how to apply them to language data is assumed; as described for morphology and syntax in e.g.
    Payne, Thomas E., 2006. Exploring language structure: A student’s guide. Cambridge: CUP.
    Kroeger, Paul R., 2005. Analyzing grammar: An Introduction. Cambridge: CUP.
    and for phonetics and phonology in e.g.
    Gussenhoven, C. and H. Jacobs. 1998 (2nd ed.) Understanding Phonology. London: Arnold
    Davenport, Mike and S.J. Hannahs. 2005 (2nd ed.) Introducing Phonetics and Phonology. London: Arnold.


An exciting part of studying linguistics is learning about a language from speakers rather than from books. This course is aimed at preparing students for a real-world field situation by working with a native speaker of a language unfamiliar to them. The main goal is to document and analyze central areas of the language, ranging from sounds, to words, to sentences and utterances. The course will additionally include information on the use of tools and techniques for eliciting, recording, transcribing, and presenting linguistic material.

Course objectives

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • record, transcribe and annotate speech data of an unfamiliar language through the interaction with a native speaker

  • collect language data through word lists, visual stimuli and other grammar gathering techniques

  • apply theoretical linguistic knowledge to first-hand data and provide a basic analysis of the phonology, morphology and syntax of an unfamiliar language


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Combination of lecture, seminar, and independent research.
*We will meet once a week for a field session and for data discussion. Students are responsible carrying out elicitation sessions and transcribing and analysing the data. In the data discussion meetings we will address practical issues as they arise, and we will discuss proposed linguistic analyses for the collected data.
*All students will have to prepare the field session in advance, take notes during the recording sessions, transcribe, gloss, and translate the collected data. For each field session, two “session leaders” will be chosen. Duties of the session leaders include: lead the elicitation; set up the video/audio recording equipment and monitor the recording process; transcribe, gloss and translate the data; submit their own field notes before the next class.
*A number of classes are reserved to software training sessions: during these sessions students are expected to bring their own laptops.

Assessment method

*Data annotation and transcription, class attendance and performance in field sessions: 20%

  • Phonology sketch + word list (essay 1): 20%

  • Morphology sketch (essay 2): 20%

  • Grammar sketch (phonology + morpho-syntax): 40%
    The grammar sketch (final essay) contains:

  • A short introductory paragraph on the studied language

  • A phonology chapter (revision of essay 1)

  • A morphology chapter (revision of essay 2)

  • A syntax chapter

  • An appendix with a word list (target language-English-target language)

  • A short text transcribed, glossed and translated

The term paper is due before the end of the semester. Not meeting this deadline means that the next opportunity to have your work graded will be at the end of the following semester.
Resit: students who fail the course may resit the term paper.

Reading list

Will be communicated thru Brightspace


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory


For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar

For questions related to the content of the course, please contact the lecturer, you can find their contact information by clicking on their name in the sidebar.

For questions regarding enrollment please contact the Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats E-mail address Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats:

For questions regarding your studyprogress contact the Coordinator of Studies