Linguistics 202/502
Field Linguistics
Spring 2004-2005


Instruction and practice in primary linguistic research, i.e. the elicitation of linguistic data through direct work with a native speaker of a language not previously known to the students. Some reference materials may be consulted to supplement and direct the elicitation.


Bill Poser
Web Page:

Audio Files


In order to make use of everything on this web site, you will need Unicode-encoded fonts for the International Phonetic Alphabet. You'll need them in order to read some parts of these pages in your browser and to view Unicode-encoded text files. You'll also need them if you're going to write in Unicode.

Probably the easiest way to get the necessary fonts is to get a copy of James Kass' font Code 2000. This is a TrueType font that covers the entire first plane of the Unicode standard. That means that it includes Ethiopic, the Roman alphabet and its various extensions, including the IPA symbols, and most of the other writing systems currently in use. This font will allow you to view everything on these pages in Galeon (the browser I usually use), Internet Explorer, Netscape and Mozilla. It will also work with Yudit, allowing you to use Yudit to view Unicode files and to write in IPA and Tigrinya and generate Unicode files.

If you want to write web pages of your own in Unicode, you can either compose directly in Unicode, using a Unicode editor such as Yudit and inserting the HTML yourself, or you can write them however you usually do, in a smaller character set, and insert the Unicode manually. In the latter case, you'll need to know the numerical codes for the IPA symbols. You can find them here or here. The Unicode codes for the Ethiopic writing system can be found here.

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Bibliography on Field Methods and Related Topics

(This is a list of relevant items, not a list of required reading.)
Abbi, Anvita (2001)
A Manual of Linguistic Field Work and Structures of Indian Languages. Munich: LINCOM EUROPA.

Bouquiaux, Luc and Jacqueline M. C. Thomas (1992)
Studying and Describing Unwritten Languages. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics.

Comrie, Bernard and Norval Smith (1977)
`Lingua Descriptive Studies: questionnaire,' Lingua 42.1.1-72.

Dixon, Robert M. W. (1983)
Searching for Aboriginal Languages: Memoirs of a Field Worker. New York: University of Queensland Press. Reprinted 1989 by the University of Chicago Press.

Everett, Daniel L. (2003)
"Coherent Fieldwork," ms. University of Manchester.

Newman, Paul and Martha Ratliff (eds.) (2001)
Linguistic Fieldwork. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Payne, T. E. (1997)
Describing Morphosyntax: A Guide for Field Linguists. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tepper, Sheri S. (1987)
After Long Silence. New York: Bantam Books.
This is a science fiction novel that turns out, in a way, to be about doing linguistic fieldwork. (Being more specific would give away the story.) It is not in the Penn Library but can be purchased from

Tepper, Sheri S. (2003)
The Companions. New York: Harper Collins.
Another science fiction novel, more explicitly involving linguistic fieldwork than After Long Silence.

Vaux, Bert and Justin Cooper (1999)
Introduction to Linguistic Field Methods. Munich: Lincom Europa. ISBN:3895861987

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Linguistics Resources

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Last modified 2005/03/13.

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