Field Research

Field research in Latin America

Linguistic Fieldwork research involves the study of lesser-studied languages in loco, in direct interaction with native speakers, with a goal of developing detailed descriptions of these languages and/or formulating and testing linguistic hypotheses. The documentation, description, and analysis of understudied languages can sometimes leading to community-oriented applications of linguistic research, such as language revitalization. The Department of Linguistics has a very strong component of field research, spanning a wide range of specialities.

Core Researchers

Jürgen Bohnemeyer, PhD has been conducting field research on Yukatek Maya in Mexico since 1991, totaling more than two years spent in the field. His research focuses on problems of semantics, pragmatics, the lexicon-syntax interface, and semantic typology, the study of linguistic categorization. He has been continuously involved with the development and refinement of methods for the study of these problems in the field. Bohnemeyer also carries out experimental work in the field, focusing in particular on validations of the Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis.

Christian DiCanio, PhD has done linguistic fieldwork in Mexico since 2004 and has focused on the phonetics, phonology, and morphophonology of Otomanguean languages (Triqui, Mixtec, Ixcatec). His work on these languages focuses mainly on how tone, length, and glottalization interact in speech production and their role in the phonology and morphology of these languages. His current NSF grant (Understanding Prosody and Tone Interactions through Documentation of Two Endangered Languages) involves the investigation of the prosody-tone interface in Itunyoso Triqui and Yoloxóchitl Mixtec, the development of computational tools for speech segmentation in each language, and text documentation.

Matthew S. Dryer, PhD's field research grows out of his research in linguistic typology. He has an ongoing project describing Kutenai, a language isolate spoken in Montana and British Columbia, and since 2001 has been doing joint field work with Lea Brown on three languages in Papua New Guinea: Walman and Srenge, both languages in the Torricelli family; and Poko-Rawo (also known as Rawo), a language in the Sko family.

Jeff Good, PhD has been conducting field research in Northwest Cameroon since 2004 as part of more general research on Benue-Congo languages. His particular focus has been on languages of the Beboid family, close relatives of Bantu languages with quite distinct surface typology from them. In addition to a descriptive interest in these languages, he is interested in how they can inform the study of comparative Benue-Congo morphosyntax and, thereby, the study of the relationship between syntax and morphology more generally.

Karin Michelson, PhD has devoted more than 30 years to research on Northern Iroquoian languages, especially Oneida, reflecting an interest in descriptive and theoretical issues in various subdisciplines, including phonology and morphology. She has recently published a 1400-page dictionary or Oneida: Michelson, Karin E., and Mercy A. Doxtator (2002). Oneida English/English-Oneida Dictionary. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Recent Field Researcher PhDs

The Department of Linguistics encourages field work by graduate students; PhD course requirements include a full year of Field Methods.

Ongoing PhD Field Research

  • Adam Hatfield: Mehek (Sepik)
  • Adam Sposato: Xong (Xiangxi Miao)
  • Monty Hill: Tuscarora (Iroquoian)
  • Jennifer Wilson: Yeri (Torricelli)