Handling unsophisticated linguistic informants: a textbook

Author : Alan Healey

Publication date : 1964

Questionnaire URL : http://sealang.net/archives/pl/pdf/PL-A2.pdf

Bibliographical references :

Healey, Alan. 1964. "Handling unsophisticated linguistic informants". Canberra: Australian National University.


This textbook provides a general guideline to field work, giving hints on the best way to observe a linguistic event or to collect data.

Protocol summary

It is divided in 6 sections, except for the introduction and a 'general approach' :
- Linguistic surveys
- Investigating phonology
- Pair testing
- Eliciting grammar monolingually 
- Determining meaning
- Using tape recorders

Development context

''this paper descrIbes the author's methods of handling unsophisticated informants while investigating the Teleefool language spoken by about 4000 people in the vicinity of Telefomin, Territory of New Guinea. The discussion includes several aspects of field methodology that have received scant attentIon in the literature to date: linguistic surveys, pair testing for phonology, monolingual informants, and the uses of tape recorders.'' (Healey, 1964: 1)


Review by Kenneth L. HALE – marie.benzerrak


''This short but interesting essay is partly a case study-it is a description of the methods that its author used while doing linguistic field work with speakers of TeleCfodl in the Territory of New Guinea. The issues discussed seem, however, to be universally valid for linguistic field work among nonliterate peoples. The essay is apparently aimed at those who have done little or no linguistic field work, since those who have worked extensively with informants will find the methods... + Read more

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