Chapter 2 – The Research Process in Linguistic Anthropology
What Kinds of Research Questions do Linguistic Anthropologists Formulate?
- Often researchers focuses on how does language reflects and/or shapes some aspect of
- Linguistic anthropologists incorporate insights from their fieldwork into their research
questions so that they more accurately reflect the way that the research subjects
themselves talk/think about a certain topic. (A research question can thus be a work of
- Three examples of a linguistic research questions:
1. What do the arguments, storytelling episodes, and gossip of African American
girls and boys tell us about the gendered nature of conversations and the ability
of children to create rich, complex social worlds?
2. How does the use of ‘Mock Spanish’ (such as “hasta la vista, baby) by native
English speakers both directly and indirectly index the speakers’ attitudes about
3. What are the causes and implications of the almost complete eradication of a
form of Irish Sign Language that used solely by women?
What Kinds of Data do Linguistic Anthropologists collect, and with what Methods?
- Linguistic anthropologists have a mixture of research methods. One may video tape
hours of conversations whereas one might require sorting through all of a government’s
language policy documents over a period of decades, and one may do nothing more
than use Google search.
- Both quantitative and qualitative data is present.
1. Quantitative data can be counted (is numerical, the researcher is investigating
the quantities of something). May conduct a survey and see how many feel
strongly about a particular subject.
2. Qualitative data doesn’t involve counting. Researches are more interested in
looking in-depth at some aspect of human behaviour without quantifying it in any
way. (Ex. Researchers who live in a brand new community, observing and
participating in their lifestyle, thereby learning/absorbing as many of the details of
cultural norms/social practices as possible.
- Many research approaches within these two methods are the following:
1. Participant observation (spending months/years within another culture)
3. Surveys and Questionnaires
4. Naturally occurring conversations (recording hours of ‘natural’ everyday
conversations) Asem Harun
5. Experimental methods (conducting various experiments on subjects)
6. Matched guise tests (recording subjects as they read short passages in two or
more languages. Ex. If four people recorded, eight readings of same passage
may be produced)
7. Written texts (examining historical documents, personal letters newspaper, email
How do Linguistic Anthropologists Analyze their Data?
- Many employ research assistant to help collected data, whether conducting a survey,
distributing written questionnaires, or translating/transcribing interviews/conversations.
- Interpretation process of data analyzing is very important of anthropologists. This
process requires const