Descriptive Linguistics

This programme consists of four courses: Descriptive Linguistics, Tone Analysis, Field Methods, Documentation and Society.

Time slot 1: Descriptive Linguistics (9.30-11.00)

Maarten Mous (Leiden)

Course description

The purpose of the course is to train to apply basic linguistic knowledge to analysis of actual language data and to reflect on how to present such an analysis in grammar writing. It is geared to people who are about to write a grammar or part of a grammar. It will not be prescriptive in nature but rather raise the issues one has to deal with when writing a grammar. The goals is to become aware of the many decisions we have to take and what their consequences are. The following topics are dealt with:

1. The Grammar as a genre
2. Consonant chart
3. Vowels
4. Tone
5. Gender / noun classes
6. Verb TAM categories and units
7. Examples and glossing
8. Subordination and complementation
9. Organisation of the book
10. Terminology and referring

Time slot 2: Tone Analysis (11.30-13.00)

Constance Kutsch Lojenga (Leiden)

Course description
The majority of the world’s languages, including most endangered languages, are tone languages. Although many researchers are daunted at the prospect of describing and analyzing a tone language, the basics of a practical methodology for tone analysis can be acquired in a relatively short period of time. Researchers venturing into the field will be able to make a good start and develop a strategy for further research in the topic.
    Researchers preparing for fieldwork in such languages need to collect data for tone analysis and be prepared for listening to and transcribing the surface pitches of words and longer utterances. Their next challenge is discovering the underlying tonal melodies associated with the major grammatical classes—nouns and verbs—from the surface pitch they have heard. With a practical methodology and typological background, researchers will be able to achieve these aims. My experience is in tone in African languages; the principles of the approach, however, should be valid for tone languages worldwide.
    The course will also treat topics like depressor consonants, various types of tone rules, like spreading, shifting, polarity and Meeussen’s rule, as well as register phenomena: Downdrift, Downstep, Upstep.
    A discussion on the function of tone will be followed by the topic of tone orthography and tone teaching.

Broad overview of the topics
    Tone in the world’s languages; tone in African languages
    What is a tone language?
Surface and underlying structure 
Typology of tone systems
Practical methodology
    Data gathering and organizing the data for tone analysis
    Listening and mimicking
    Transcribing pitch/tone
    Interpreting tones and tonal melodies; making hypotheses for the underlying system
    How to proceed with further details of the tone analysis
Segment / Tone interaction
Some frequently occurring tonal phenomena
Tone Rules
    Register phenomena
Function of tone
Tone orthography and tone teaching
Supplementary sessions: practical tone-reading exercises and tone-hearing exercises

Time slot 3: Field methods (14.00-15.30)

Christian Rapold (Regensburg)

Fieldwork is the backbone of modern linguistics—rarely talked about but vital to the whole field. Whatever you will do with your data following your theoretical persuasion and interests, the analysis will stand and fall with the quality and type of the data you use. This course offers a broad overview of theoretical and practical aspects of the state-of-the-art in field methods. An important part of each session will be devoted to hands-on fieldwork practice with a speaker of a non-Indoeuropean language, developing skills that are rarely acquired through books or lectures.

Time slot 4: Documentation and Society (16.00 - 17.30)

This is a series of debates, plenary and in smaller groups, flexible depending on the topic of the day. In these directed debates a number of issues will be dealt with: The specifics and differences of the regions (Europe, North America or Australia, Africa or SE Asia, Latin America, sign language communities) as regards i) ethics, ii) rights and consent, iii) circumstances of revitalisation, iv) involving the community and new media, v) "giving back", vi) activities to show and promote the language.
We intend to present concrete cases for inspiration and critical reflection.