1st Edition

Understanding Linguistic Fieldwork

ISBN 9780415786133
Published March 26, 2018 by Routledge
348 Pages 45 B/W Illustrations

USD $42.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Understanding Linguistic Fieldwork offers a diverse and practical introduction to research methods used in field linguistics. Designed to teach students how to collect quality linguistic data in an ethical and responsible manner, the key features include:

  • A focus on fieldwork in countries and continents that have undergone colonial expansion, including Australia, the United States of America, Canada, South America and Africa;
  • A description of specialist methods used to conduct research on phonological, grammatical and lexical description, but also including methods for research on gesture and sign, language acquisition, language contact and the verbal arts;
  • Examples of resources that have resulted from collaborations with language communities and which both advance linguistic understanding and support language revitalisation work;
  • Annotated guidance on sources for further reading.

This book is essential reading for students studying modules relating to linguistic fieldwork or those looking to embark upon field research.

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables



1. Introduction

2. Planning for fieldwork

3. Equipment and recording

4. Data management, annotation and archiving

5. Phonetics and Phonology

6. Morpho-syntax

7. Semantic fieldwork and lexicography

8. Sign and gesture

9. Child language acquisition

10. Contact Languages

11. Verbal art

12. A final word


Map of major languages referred to in this book

Answers to Exercises

Glossary and Abbreviations


View More



Felicity Meakins is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Queensland. She specialises in the documentation of Australian languages in the Victoria River District in northern Australia and the effect of English on Indigenous languages.

Jennifer Green is a Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Her main research interests are descriptive linguistics, lexicography, multimodality in narrative practices and sign language. 

Myfany Turpin is a Research Fellow at the University of Sydney. Her research is in descriptive linguistics, poetry, song, ethnobiology and language revitalization.


"This book aims to be a one-stop introduction to fieldwork as it is currently conceived, covering not only the expected topics, but also a variety of areas that are not standardly found in the fieldwork literature, including sign language, child language acquisition, contact languages, and verbal arts, all areas that figure prominently in language documentation today. It will be an invaluable resource for the novice fieldworker, with much of value for the experienced one as well."

Keren Rice, University of Toronto, Canada

"The authors take exquisite account of the community contexts in which linguistic documentation and discovery unfold, which they work into a humanistically and scientifically rich, holistic introduction to the subject."

Anthony C. Woodbury, The University of Texas at Austin, USA