Research Methodology in Anthropological Linguistics


Comparative Study of Ideas and Cultures (3rd cycle)

Anthropology: Understanding Worldmaking Practices

Course principals:
Prof. Borut Telban, Ph.D.
Karmen Kenda-Jež, Ph.D.


Course code: 65

Year of study: Not specified

Workload: lectures 60 hours, seminars 30 hours

Course type: general elective

Languages: Slovene, English

Learning and teaching methods: lectures, seminars


Course Syllabus


None required.


Content (Syllabus outline)

1. Introduction to Anthropological Linguistics:

  • Anthropological linguistics as an interdisciplinary science;
  • Starting points of linguistic research: links with the methods of sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, ethno-linguistics, cognitive linguistics, pragmatics, discourse analysis and conversational analysis;
  • Main directions of the research.


2. Research into linguistic practices:

  • Linguistic practices and social communities: language/speech community, community of practice, social networks;
  • The status of language varieties: prestige vs. stigmatisation; standard (written language – literary language – standard language) vs. nonstandard varieties (dialect, sociolect, ethnolect); functional differentiation of language, public and private communication; minority, local, national and world languages; language of individuals, idiolect, the mental dictionary; artificial languages;
  • Multilingualism and multiculturalism: individual and community multilingualism, languages in contact, diglossia, linguistic interference, code-switching, borrowing; globalisation of communicative practices, language decline and language death;
  •  Linguistic ideologies: language and nationalism, language, and social/cultural disparity, language ideology and language planning – language culture, purism, linguicism.


3. Methodology of anthropological linguistic research and manifestation of language forms:

  • Researcher as a participant: the impact of language and communicative competence of the researcher at the course and the results of the anthropological linguistic research;
  • Research into the spoken language: observation techniques; formal, informal, spontaneous speech; recording (selection of transcription principles) and analysis of speech, interpretation of extra-linguistic elements;
  • Research into written texts: literacy, written practices, textual patterns (documents, private correspondence);
  • Between the oral and the written – analysis of electronic texts, written text as a conversation.
  • Language documentation as a method of language maintenance and revitalisation


4. Methods of textual analysis:

  • Discourse analysis: observation of discursive practices, analysing techniques; critical discourse analysis (CDA); language and power/politics/race/ethnicity/class/gender;
  • Conversation analysis: dialogue as a basic form of human speech activity; structure of dialogue; theory of politeness;
  • Work with language corpora: corpora as a source of anthropological-linguistic research.


5. Anthropological linguistic research and ethics:

  • Protection of personal data – the individual in the community;
  • Positive and negative impacts of research procedures on the community researched.



  • Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. 2015. The Art of Grammar: A Practical Guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Bathia, Tej K. in William C. Ritchie (ur.). 2013. The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism. Blackwell Publishing.
  • Bernard, Russell H. 2011. Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Plymouth: AltaMira Press.
  • Brunn, Stanley D. in Roland Kehrein, 2020. Handbook of the Changing World Language Map. Springer. (Izbrana poglavja.)
  • Coulmas, Florian, 2018. An Introduction to Multilingualism: Language in a Changing World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Duranti, Alessandro (ur.). 2004. A Companion to Linguistic Anthropology. Blackwell Publishing.
  • Eckert, Penelope in Sally McConnell-Ginet. 2013. Language and Gender. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Evans, Nicholas. 2009. Dying Words: Endangered Languages and What They Have to Tell Us. Chichester: Willey-Blackwell Publishing.
  • Fishman, Joshua in Ofelia Garcia. 2010-2011. Handbook of Language and Ethnic Identity: 1 – Disciplinary and Regional Perspectives, 2 – The Success-Failure Continuum in Language and Ethnic Identity Efforts. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Milroy, Lesley in Mathew Gordon. 2003. Sociolinguistics: Method and Interpretation. Blackwell Publishing.
  • Podesva, Robert J. in Devyani Sharma (ur.). 2013. Research Methods in Linguistics. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Sallabank, Julia, Attitudes to Endangered Languages: Identities and Policies. 2013. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Schilling, Natalie, Sociolinguistic Fieldwork. 2013. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Thomason, Sarah G. 2015. Endangered Languages: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Verschueren, Jef. 2013. Ideology in Language Use: Pragmatic Guidelines for Empirical Research. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Wodak, Ruth in Michael Meyer (ur.). 2009. Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis. London: SAGE


Objectives and competences

In anthropological linguistics the methodological research framework is understood as a dynamic integration of (linguistic) research methods and tools. These methods and tools enable an analysis of the structure and use of language to allow insight into its social and cultural context, as well as revealing its role in setting up, maintaining and transforming social relationships within the community. This course therefore aims to present a wide selection of single methodological approaches and the opportunities for their use and integration into specific areas of anthropological linguistics. In accordance with the specific needs of the students, it presents individual research techniques and procedures, along with their appropriate or inappropriate applications on analysis of different language material.


Intended learning outcomes:


  1. understand the role of linguistic analysis in anthropological research,
  2. are capable of choosing an appropriate research methodology for their own case study and
  3. are able to apply the chosen techniques of language data collection and analysis.


Learning and teaching methods:

Types of learning/teaching:

  • Frontal teaching
  • Independent students work
  • e-learning


Teaching methods:

  • Explanation
  • Conversation/discussion/debate
  • Case studies
  • Field work (e.g. company visits)



  • Short written assignment (20 %),
  • presentations (20 %),
  • final examination (written/oral) (60 %).


Anthropology of consciousness and practices of awareness

Asst. Prof. Maja Petrović Šteger, Ph. D.,


Anthropology of Fertility

Assoc. Prof. Duška Kneževič Hočevar, Ph.D.,


Cosmology of Mesoamerican Societies

Prof. Ivan Šprajc, Ph.D.,


Epistemological pluralism and “decolonizing” methods in ethnographic research

Assoc. Prof. Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen, Ph.D.,


Laughing politically: toward the anthropology of humor

Prof. Tanja Petrović, Ph.D.,


Public anthropology, social engagement and activism

Assoc. Prof. Ana Hofman, Ph.D.,


Research Methodology in Anthropological Linguistics

Prof. Borut Telban, Ph.D.,

Karmen Kenda-Jež, Ph.D.,


Space and movement: towards anthropology of locations and migrations

Asst. Prof. Nataša Gregorič Bon, Ph.D.,