Studying and Describing Unwritten Languages

Bouquiaux, Luc and Jacqueline M. C. Thomas

This work was first published in three volumes in French in 1971 (followed by a second edition in 1976), under the auspices of the Société d’études linguistiques et antropologiques de France (selaf). It is presented here in English in one volume.

This first book evolved because of a felt need by the authors for a methodology of linguistic research techniques for young researchers doing fieldwork for the first time. The first section, consisting of some basic aspects of gathering and processing data from unwritten languages, developed from a course given by Luc Bouquiaux at the Session of African Linguistics in July 1969 at the Faculté des Lettres of Aix-en-Provence.

Volumes two and three of the original work consist of questionnaires, with accompanying pictures, which are exhaustive in the coverage of terminology of linguistic categories as well as other categories such as time expressions, currency, measures and accounts, medicine, ethnozoology, ethonbotany, kinship terms, and many others. These areas all need investigation since, from the point of view of the authors, “language is equally an instrument of communication and an expression of a social reality.”

It is hoped that the English translation will be found to be as indispensable a working tool of field research to current-day researchers as the French volumes have been to fieldworkers over the past couple of decades.

Table of Contents:

Translator's Preface

1. Fieldwork and Grammatical Analysis

Part I: Introduction to Fieldwork

1. General problems
2. Material aspects of the study
3. Gathering data
4. Using the questionnaires
5. Processing the data

Part II: Concepts of Linguistic Analysis

1. Phonology
2. Morphology
3. Word-level analysis
4. Grammatical categories
5. Phrase-level analysis
6. The level of grammatical functions
7. Utterance level (enoncematic, clausematic)
8. Recapitulation
9. Bibliography

2. Linguistic Approach--Questionnaires

1. Instructions for the recording of linguistic data
2. linguistic inventoly questionnaire
3. Questionnaire for an extensive survey
4. Phonological guide
5. Morphology derivation and compounding
6. Verb phrase
7. The noun and the noun phrase
8. Sentence types
9. Sentence questionnaire

3. Thematic Approach--Questionnaires

1. Traditional technologies
2. Ethnobotany
3. Ethnozoology
4. Anatomy and physiology, animals and plants
5. Instructions for collecting zoological and botanical specimens
6. Sociological phenomena
7. Psychological phenomena
8. Names, measurement, and time
9. Oral tradition
10. Language contact
11. Sociolinguistic questionnaire

Retail Price:
xi, 725 pages
Field manuals
ISBN 13:
ISBN 10:
6 × 9 × 1.4 in
2.6 lb
Publication Category:
Content Language: