Denmark, Aarhus

Language Description and Linguistic Fieldwork

when 25 July 2016 - 5 August 2016
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 10 ECTS
fee EUR 552

The summer school course in language description and linguistic fieldwork will give you a broad introduction to the practical and methodological aspects of fieldwork, and the art of language description. It will also provide insight in the structures of two unfamiliar languages. The course consists of two parts: a structural course on a non-familiar language and fieldwork workshops with a speaker of an underdescribed language.

Intensive course in a non-familiar language. The language chosen will have a range of properties unfamiliar from European languages. This course will teach the structure of the Australian language Warrwa (Nyulnyulan), a moribund language of the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The course is not geared towards conversational competence in that language, but to insights into the structure of this language. Phonology, morphology, syntax and more will be covered. Nyulnyulan languages form a small family (non-Pama-Nyungan) of about ten languages, none of which is presently viable. Some of the interesting and/or unusual features of Nyulnyulan languages, including Warrwa, are: optional ergative case marking, the existence of two person-number systems in the pronouns (one for free pronouns, the other for bound pronouns), “free” word order, a system of verb classification coded in a compound verb construction, an unusual (for Australia) system of verbal conjugation, an applicative construction, and a complement construction expressing the desiderative.

In this part of the course, students will learn theoretical, ethical, methodological and ethnographic aspects of linguistic fieldwork. The course is aimed at the grammatical description of a non-Indo-European or non-European language. Students learn how to organize a fieldtrip, collect linguistic material, and analyze aspects of the sound system and grammatical structure of a language. The use of recording equipment, available software and other practical matters will also be dealt with. The workshop will consist of classes by an experienced teacher and fieldworker and practical sessions with a speaker of a non-European or non-Indo-European language. The workshop language will be different from the language in the structure course.

Course leader

William McGregor

Target group

Humanities students

Course aim

Master's level

Credits info


Fee info

EUR 552: Danish and EU/EØS (tomplads): 552 EUR
EUR 1550: NON-EU-EØS students (free-mover): 1550 EUR