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LIN4040 - Researching and documenting languages

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Dr Simon Musgrave


Clayton Second semester 2007 (Day)
Clayton Second semester 2007 (Off-campus)


This unit provides students with the knowledge and skills in field research methods necessary to support the rich documentation of languages. It develops the ability to select and use appropriate methodologies for the recording of grammatical and sociolinguistic data in various settings, including quantitative and qualitative research methods (surveys, questionnaires, the ethnography of speaking, and social network theory). Particular emphasis is placed on elicitation methods involving working directly with a speaker of a language other than English. The unit also addresses fieldwork practicalities, and issues of ethics, advocacy and empowerment.


On completion of this unit students should be able to formulate research questions, demonstrate familiarity with a range of methods appropriate for the rich documentation of language, and evaluate the suitability of methods for specific documentation tasks and settings. Students should be able to prepare elicitation questions to document a linguistic feature and develop a questionnaire for sociolinguistic research. They should be able to discuss and critique the sociopolitical issues of advocacy and empowerment in relation to fieldwork, and interpret theoretical frameworks developed and utilised by researchers in the field. Students should develop an in-depth and critical knowledge of the literature in this field and apply this knowledge in formulating a proposal to document an endangered language. They should be able to present their results in discussion forums in small groups (on campus)/on line discussion (off campus) and demonstrate advanced skills in research essay writing (including planning, arguing on the basis of evidence, and documenting), and engage in team work and critical academic discussion of information and argument.


Preparation of questionnaire (500 words): 15%;
Preparation of elicitation questions (500 words): 15%;
Data collection with speaker (750 words equiv): 15%;
Research proposal (750 words) 15%; Research essay (2000 words): 40%.

Contact hours

2 hour seminar per week


LIN1020 or ALM4110


ALM 4150, LIN 3040