SpecGram Vol CLVIII, No 4 Contents How to Do Fieldwork on Proto-Indo-European—Tim Pulju

Linguistic Fieldwork in 2010

by Senior Editor Keith W. Slater

Some years ago, as a starry-eyed MA student who hadn’t even contemplated personally doing any fieldwork, I published in these pages a modest piece recommending some practices for fieldworkers. Now, aged in years and wisened by some actual time outside of the state of Michigan, I believe the time has come to give some of the details which then eluded me.

In fact, the time has come for an entire issue, or two or three, devoted to the topic of fieldwork. To be honest, this is not a topic which can be exhausted in just a single collection of a few articles. And sure enough, as soon as I put out the call for papers on this critical topic, Speculative Grammarian’s legion of experts stepped up to the plate and provided the depth of coverage and penetrating insight that fieldwork, the lifeblood of our discipline, deserves. I am sure that you will profit greatly from the wisdom you will find in the pages of these special issues.

Over the years, of course, SpecGram has already reported the results of many groundbreaking fieldwork projects. Additionally, we have published outstanding articles about how to do fieldwork. And our pages have hosted numerous announcements of books so critical to (or sometimes of) fieldwork, including such perennial best-sellers from Psammeticus Press as Linguistic Deskwork and the Language Documentation Series.

Curiously, though, prior to now there has only been one issue of SpecGram devoted to the topic of fieldwork as a profession or fieldwork as an activity. That, of course, is the famous issue of 1887, published under the patronage of the so-called Märchenkönig, and devoted wholly to the hows and whys of doing fieldwork on the language of the Nibelungen. To this day, that issue remains in such popular demand that Rasmus Gauthiot, our senior archivist, has not had a chance to return it to its proper storage cabinet in over 8 years. (In fact, we rather suspect Rasmus of having deliberately spilled coffee on it, in a vain attempt to reduce its popularity and to get himself a bit of a rest.)

We at SpecGram want especially to thank our sponsor for this issue, John Deere. Who among us cannot remember the thrill of the first time a field methods professor turned the controls over to us, allowing us to give free rein to a John Deere Data Harvester? The purr of well-built machinery, filling notebooks with mountains of precious data, must surely be the greatest thrill in all of linguistics! Thanks to John Deere, not only for their support of this issue, but for a century of making linguistics the most productive of the social sciences.

How to Do Fieldwork on Proto-Indo-European—Tim Pulju
SpecGram Vol CLVIII, No 4 Contents