Field Linguistics & Language Documentation

Claire Bowern presents at American Philosophical Society

Claire Bowern presented work at the American Philosophical Society’s 2020 Native American Scholars Initiative conference: Relationships, Reciprocity, and Responsibilities: Indigenous Studies in Archives and Beyond. Co-presenting with Australian colleagues George Hayden, Denise Smith-Ali and Sue Hanson, they discussed the Yale grammar bootcamps and ways of making long-distance collaborations work to augment community-based local language reclamation efforts.

Matt Tyler defends dissertation

On Thursday, July 23rd, Matt Tyler successfully defended his PhD dissertation. The defense, which was held virtually on Zoom, presented Matt’s dissertation entitled Argument Structure and Argument-Marking in Choctaw, supervised by Jim Wood. The committee members were Raffaella Zanuttini, Bob Frank, and Aaron Broadwell. Congratulations, Matt!

Claire Bowern participates in panel on fieldwork

Claire Bowern was a panelist recently discussing remote fieldwork, community support, and ethics, as part of the University of Melbourne’s “Linguistics in the Pub” series. Approximately 100 participants from all over the world got together to listen to reflections about Covid-19 based changes to field practices, what linguists can do to most effectively support the communities they work with, and the additional ethical challenges that arise when working remotely. The panelists discussed a range of field situations.

Claire Bowern talks language change on morphology podcast

Linguistics faculty member Claire Bowern recently appeared on the linguistics podcast “Distributed Morphs.” The podcast is aimed at linguistics undergraduate and graduate students and discusses different aspects of morphology. Claire talked about morphology and language change, along with rapid (and not so rapid) change in the verb morphology of Bardi, an Indigenous Australian language from northern Australia. 

Luke Lindemann publishes paper in Journal of Linguistic Geography

Recent alumnus Luke Lindemann has published a paper entitled “When Wurst comes to Wurscht: Variation and koiné formation in Texas German.” Luke’s paper was published in the latest issue of the Journal of Linguistic Geography. It discusses dialect emergence and leveling, and focuses on the variation between [s] and [ʃ] (sh) sounds in certain contexts in Texas German.

Yale and Haskins linguists present at ICPhS 2019 in Melbourne

Many students, faculty, and alumni of Yale linguistics, as well as colleagues from nearby Haskins Laboratories, presented their work at the International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS) in Melbourne, Australia, earlier this month. They contributed at least 14 talks and posters to the conference and enjoyed a full week of presentations about phonetics, connecting with colleagues and friends from all over the world. 

Rikker Dockum and Claire Bowern publish paper in Language Documentation and Description

Rikker Dockum and Claire Bowern have a new paper in the open access journal Language Documentation and Description, entitled “Swadesh lists are not long enough: Drawing phonological generalizations from limited data.” They look at the amount of data (e.g. number of words in a wordlist) required to accurately recover phonological inventory distributional generalizations and show that the typical 100-word or 200-word Swadesh lists frequently used by linguists are not usually sufficient.

Matt Tyler publishes paper on Choctaw in Studia Linguistica

The most recent issue of Studia Linguistica includes an article by PhD candidate Matthew Tyler. The paper is entitled “Choctaw as a Window into the Clitic/Agreement Split”. In this paper he draws on original fieldwork he has been conducting in Mississippi on Choctaw in connection with his dissertation work. He develops a series of tests, some specific to Choctaw, to argue that most “agreement” morphemes on the Choctaw verb are really clitics (essentially pronouns like I/you/we/etc. that are attached to the verb).

Pama-Nyungan lab members publish paper on forced alignment

Members of the Pama-Nyungan lab recently published a write-up of their results on forced alignment algorithms. Their paper on “A Robin Hood approach to forced alignment: English-trained algorithms and their use on Australian languages” was recently published in the proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America. They show that for some purposes, English-trained models can be used without crucial loss of accuracy.

Claire Bowern publishes paper on linguistic fieldwork

2018 marked the 20th anniversary of the publication of the article by Nikolaus Himmelmann, which introduced the distinction between “language documentation” and “language description” (or analysis). In this Open Access special publication in the journal Language Documentation and Conservation, linguists reflect on the changes to the field, to fieldwork practices, and to the state of language records and endangerment across the world.

Rikker Dockum presents at SEALS

PhD candidate Rikker Dockum presented at the 28th meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society (SEALS), where he discussed his fieldwork on Khamti, a language spoken in Myanmar and India. Rikker has spent a substantial amount of time in the region documenting various languages, as he conducts his dissertation research on tone systems in Tai-Kadai, a family of languages that includes Khamti and Thai.

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