skip navigation

Field Research

Drs. Jürgen Bohnemeyer, Christian DiCanio, Matthew Dryer, Jeff Good, and Karin Michelson.

This research specialty involves the in-depth study of languages based on field work, with a goal of detailed descriptions of these languages.

Dr. Bohnemeyer has been conducting field research on Yukatek Maya in Mexico since 1991, totaling more than two years spent in the field. His research focuses on problems of semantics, pragmatics, the lexicon-syntax interface, and semantic typology, the study of linguistic categorization. He has been continuously involved with the development and refinement of methods for the study of these problems in the field. Bohnemeyer also carries out experimental work in the field, focusing in particular on validations of the Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis.

Prof. DiCanio has done linguistic fieldwork in Mexico since 2004 and has focused on the phonetics, phonology, and morphophonology of Otomanguean languages (Triqui, Mixtec, Ixcatec). His work on these languages focuses mainly on how tone, length, and glottalization interact in speech production and their role in the phonology and morphology of these languages. His current NSF grant (Understanding Prosody and Tone Interactions through Documentation of Two Endangered Languages) involves the investigation of the prosody-tone interface in Itunyoso Triqui and Yoloxóchitl Mixtec, the development of computational tools for speech segmentation in each language, and text documentation.

Dr. Dryer’s field research grows out of his research in linguistic typology. He has an ongoing project describing Kutenai, a language isolate spoken in Montana and British Columbia, and since 2001 has been doing joint field work with Lea Brown on three languages in Papua New Guinea: Walman and Srenge, both languages in the Torricelli family; and Poko-Rawo (also known as Rawo), a language in the Sko family.

Dr. Good has been conducting field research in Northwest Cameroon since 2004 as part of more general research on Benue-Congo languages. His particular focus has been on languages of the Beboid family, close relatives of Bantu languages with quite distinct surface typology from them. In addition to a descriptive interest in these languages, he is interested in how they can inform the study of comparative Benue-Congo morphosyntax and, thereby, the study of the relationship between syntax and morphology more generally.

Dr. Michelson has devoted more than 30 years to research on Northern Iroquoian languages, especially Oneida, reflecting an interest in descriptive and theoretical issues in various subdisciplines, including phonology and morphology. She has recently published a 1400-page dictionary or Oneida:
Michelson, Karin E., and Mercy A. Doxtator (2002). Oneida English/English-Oneida Dictionary. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Our department encourages field work by graduate students. Our Ph.D. course requirements include a full year of Field Methods.

Recent Ph.D.s based on field research include:

Hiroto Uchihara (2013). Tone and accent in Oklahoma Cherokee
Jesse Lovegren (2012). Mungbam grammar
Michael Frank (2011). Language Maintenance and Change among the Swiss Mennonites of the Waterloo Region, Ontario
Robert Fried (2010). A Grammar of Bao-an Tu, A Mongolic Language of Northwest China
Carolyn O’Meara (2010) Seri Landscape Classification and Spatial Reference
Scott Paauw (2009) The Malay Contact Varieties of Eastern Indonesia: A Typological Comparison.
Gabriela Perez Baez (2009) Endangerment of a Transnational Language: The Case of San Lucas Quiavini Zapotec
Rodrigo Romero Mendez (2009) A Descriptive Grammar of Ayutla Mixe (Tukyo’m Ayuujk)
Percy Abrams (2006). Onondaga Pronominal Prefixes (Iroquoian)
Joy Wu (2006). Verb Classification, Case Marking, and Grammatical Relations in Amis (Austronesian, Taiwan)
Lilian Guerrero-Valenzuela (2005). The syntax-semantic interface in Yaqui complex constructions, a Role and Reference Grammar Analysis (Uto-Aztecan): Index, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Todd McDaniels (2005). Establishing perspective in Comanche Narrative (Uto-Aztecan)
Ardis Eschenberg (2005). The Article System of UmoNhoN (Siouan)
Eve Ng (2003). Demonstrative words in the Algonquian Language Passamaquoddy: A descriptive and grammaticalization analysis
Sidi Facundes (2000). The Language of the Apurina People of Brazil
Matthew Davidson (2002). Studies in Southern Wakashan (Nootkan) Grammar

Ongoing Ph.D. projects involving field work include:
Adam Hatfield: Mehek (Sepik)
Adam Sposato: Xong (Xiangxi Miao)
Monty Hill: Tuscarora (Iroquoian)
Jennifer Wilson: Yeri (Torricelli)