Research methods in phonetic fieldwork

Butcher, Andrew (2013) Research methods in phonetic fieldwork. In: Jones, Mark J., and Knight, Rachael-Anne, (eds.) The Bloomsbury Companion to Phonetics. Bloomsbury Companions . Bloomsbury Publishing, London, UK, pp. 57-78.

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Abstract

[Extract] Despite the old anecdote about Daniel Jones taking 'only his ears' on a phonetic field trip (Ladefoged, 1997, p. 141), there is a long tradition of phoneticians lugging equipment over great distances to record speakers in remote locations. The first field recordings of speakers of 'exotic' languages were made by anthropologist-linguists not long after the invention of the phonograph. John Peabody Harrington was one early adopter of the new technology and (with over a million pages of phonetic transcription to his name) probably the first 'real' phonetician to make audio recordings of speech in the field (Glenn, 1991). With the advent of the aluminium disc in the mid-1930s, Harrington is said to have paid a neighbour's son to manhandle his 65 kg. 'portable' recording machine up and down mountains and across valleys by means of rope bridges. The introduction of magnetic tape recording after the Second World War initially meant little reduction in weight. It was the production of high quality portable reel-to-reel decks in the 1960s which brought the first real improvement in the fieldworker's lot. But even up to the 1980s, as Peter Ladefoged recounts, 'before we had laptop computers and pocket-sized tape recorders, a travelling phonetics lab was heavy and bulky . . . . All told, my equipment topped 80 pounds [36 kg], without considering notebooks and clothes' (Ladefoged, 2003, p. 55). The 1980s saw the introduction of small audio cassette recorders of relatively high quality and the following decade the arrival of portable digital audio tape (DAT) recorders, offering the possibility of true professional-quality field recordings. Ten years later fully digital solid-state recorders are a reality: small and light with no moving parts and with ever-expanding recording capacity in digital uncompressed format. Phoneticians are now able to collect data in the field which is of comparable quality to that recorded in the laboratory.

Item ID: 32575
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-1-4411-4606-9
Date Deposited: 12 May 2014 01:32
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2004 Linguistics > 200408 Linguistic Structures (incl Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics) @ 100%
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