Morphosyntactic Analysis in the Field: A Guide to the Guides

Ulrike Mosel

in The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Fieldwork

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199571888
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Morphosyntactic Analysis in the Field: A Guide to the Guides

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  • Linguistics
  • Anthropological Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology


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This article focuses on existing field guides for morphosyntactic analysis of previously undescribed languages. The first comprehensive modern linguistic field guide was written by Samarin (1967), followed by Bouquiaux and Thomas, Healey (1975), and Kibrik (1977). Apart from Burling's (1984) small but very useful book, Learning a Field Language, there were no fieldwork guides published in the 1980s. Since the early 1990s the rising awareness of the imminent global loss of language diversity, the recognition of linguistic typology as an important discipline of linguistics, and the advances in language recording and processing technology have led to an increasing interest in the documentation of endangered languages and fieldwork methods. These guides have to be distinguished from publications that inform students on the diversity of language structures, or train them through exercises in the analysis of linguistic data. This article briefly explains selected areas of the typology of morphosyntactic structures and gives useful recommendations for further study along with her presentation of data gathering methods. In each section, the morphosyntactic characteristics of Indian languages are explained followed by suggestions about how they can be elicited. The sections in this article recommend a number of books that provide basic and specialized information on languages and language structures and then address anthropologists and other non-linguistic researchers who are interested in collecting language data in the course of fieldwork. Finally, the article summarizes the state of the art.

Keywords: morphosyntactic analysis; language diversity; linguistic typology; endangered languages; language structure

Article.  6998 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Anthropological Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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