Grammar Boot Camp featured in YaleNews

August 17, 2017

YaleNews, the news website of the Office of Public Affairs & Communications, has published an article featuring Professor Claire Bowern’s Grammar Boot Camp. The Grammar Boot Camp is an annual summer program for undergraduates from across the United States. With travel costs and a stipend funded by a National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates grant, participants gain valuable research experience by working on an original research project. This year, Akshay Aitha of the University of California, Berkeley, Lydia Ding of Carleton College, and Sarah Mihuc of McGill University worked with Claire to produce a grammar for the aboriginal Australian language Noongar.

Of the many methodologies by which linguistics research is conducted, the Grammar Boot Camp exposes students to field methods—techniques by which linguists uncover information about the grammar of a language. Over the summer, Akshay, Lydia, Sarah, and Claire studied notes and recordings that linguists have previously made while interviewing native speakers of Noongar, and produced a description of the grammar of the language based on these materials. The project is directed primarily by the students themselves, who must navigate challenging constraints on their available resources: they cannot interview native speakers, and the source materials are old, covering a large timespan from roughly 1830 to 1950. Nonetheless, the grammar they produced is of publishable quality, and parts of projects from previous Grammar Boot Camps have already been published.

This year marks the fourth iteration of the Grammar Boot Camp. The article is available on the YaleNews website.