Descriptive linguistics

This programme consists of four courses: Descriptive Linguistics (Mous), Tone Analysis (Kutsch Lojenga), Field Methods (Rapold), Corpus Building.

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. 

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
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: Corpus Building (16.00 - 17.30)