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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. The course additionally includes software-training sessions during which the students work with the software FLEx and ELAN in order to provide a small lexicon and an annotated text of the studied language.

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

  • compile a lexicon of the language using Fieldwork Language Explorer (FLEx)

  • transcribe texts in ELAN and provide time-aligned glossed texts by working with FLEx and ELAN together.


The timetable is available on the MA Linguistics website

Mode of instruction

Combination of lecture, seminar, and independent research.
*We will meet twice a week for a field session and for a data discussion meeting. 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.

Course Load

  • Lectures: 30 hours

  • Practical work: 70 hours

  • Mid-term and term paper: 140 hours

Assessment method


*Data annotation and transcription, class attendance and performance in field sessions: 20% *(Essay 1) Phonology sketch: 20% *(Essay 2) Morphology sketch: 20%
*Grammar sketch (Phonology + Morpho-Syntax): 40%

The grammar sketch contain:

  • 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.


Resit: students who fail the course may resit the course paper.

Inspection and feedback

Students are entitled to view their marked examination within a period of 30 days, following publication of the results of a written examination.


Blackboard will be used for:
*access to stimuli and elicitation material
*access to recordings
*announcements (session leaders and other practical information)

Reading list

Not applicable


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website

When registering, students that are registered for the specialisation that this course belongs to, or the Research Master, take priority. The deadline for registration is August 15. All other students should contact the coordinator of studies.
Students other than MA Linguistics need permission from the coordinator of studies before enrolling.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Please contact Student administration van Eyckhof for questions.

The coordinator of studies is Else van Dijk