Field Linguistics & Language Documentation

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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