Multidimensional Exploration of Online Linguistic Field Data

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Advances in storage technology make it possible to house virtually unlimited
quantities of recorded speech data online. Advances in character-encoding technology make it possible to create platform-independent transcriptions. Advances in web technology make it possible to publish this data for essentially no marginal cost. These developments have profound consequences for the accessibility, quality and quantity of linguistic field data. Recordings become accessible. Transcriptions become verifiable. Large corpora become manageable. In order to illustrate the potential for this mode of operation in field linguistics,
I describe a piece of online fieldwork involving a tone language of Cameroon.
A complex verb paradigm for Bamileke Dschang has been collected and transcribed, and audio and laryngograph recordings have been digitised and segmented. A central insight of Hyman’s analysis concerning the domain of tone
rules has been applied to the new data. A program for multidimensional exploration of the data has been developed, and can be accessed through a web version of this paper. The web page also contains digitised speech recordings of all the data items presented here. These three lines of inquiry – primary description, theoretical analysis, and tool development – are synthesised, resulting in a new methodology for the investigation of linguistic field data.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-29
Number of pages25
JournalUniversity of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

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