Linguistics Department

Documentary and Descriptive Linguistics

The documentary and descriptive linguistics concentration prepares students to collect and analyze new data on previously under-studied languages and speech communities, and to prepare grammars, dictionaries, text collections and other descriptive materials that contribute to their documentation. Many students who choose this concentration write a reference grammar of some language for their doctoral dissertations.

Coursework in documentary and descriptive linguistics builds on the core MA and PhD course requirements. It is structured around three "core courses" for the concentration: LIN 385 Field Methods in Linguistic Description; LIN 392 Linguistic Typology; and LIN 382 Historical Linguistics.  Other courses that cover various aspects of linguistic analysis, the structure and typology of different languages, and grammar writing or the preparation of other documentary and descriptive materials are offered on a regular basis by faculty who specialize in descriptive linguistics. LIN 389D, offered every semester, covers current issues in documentary and descriptive linguistics and is tailored to each student’s particular research situation. All students are encouraged to take advanced courses in phonology, syntax, or semantics.

UT has a number of facilities that enhance documentary and descriptive linguistics. The Documentary Linguistics, Phonetics, Child Language, Signed Languages, and Computational Linguistics Labs in the Department of Linguistics have a variety of tools, equipment, activities, and projects that are useful for language documentation and analysis. The Archive of Indigenous Languages of Latin America (AILLA) is collecting and making available digital audio, video, and text material on as many Latin American indigenous languages as possible. The Center for Indigenous Languages of Latin America (CILLA) encourages linguistic work done in conjunction with communities of speakers of Latin American indigenous languages and sponsors conferences and symposia on those languages, as well as hosting indigenous students and visiting professors from Latin America.

  • Department of Linguistics

    University of Texas at Austin
    305 E. 23rd Street STOP B5100
    Robert L. Patton Hall (RLP) 4.304
    Austin, TX 78712