Research Methodology in Anthropological Linguistics


Comparative Studies of Ideas and Cultures (3rd level)

Anthropology: Understanding Worldmaking Practices

Course code: 65

Year of study: Not specified

Course principal:
Assist. Prof. Karmen Kenda-Jež, Ph.D.


Workload: lectures 60 hours, seminars 30 hours

Course type: general elective

Languages: Slovene, English

Learning and teaching methods: lectures, seminars

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 deals with individual research techniques and procedures, together with relevant and less relevant examples of different linguistic material and practical experiments in seminar work.



None required.


Content (Syllabus outline)

  • 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.
  • 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 and other variants of the non-standard language (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: multilingualism of the individual and multilingualism of the community, 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.
  • 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 of speech; 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. and William C. Ritchie (eds.). 2013. The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism. Blackwell Publishing.
  • Bernard, Russell H. 2011. Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Plymouth: AltaMira Press.
  • Duranti, Alessandro (ed.). 2004. A Companion to Linguistic Anthropology. Blackwell Publishing.
  • Eckert, Penelope and 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 and 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 and Mathew Gordon. 2003. Sociolinguistics: Method and Interpretation. Blackwell Publishing.
  • Podesva, Robert J. and Devyani Sharma (eds.). 2013. Research Methods in Linguistics. 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 and Michael Meyer (eds.). 2009. Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis. London: SAGE.



Active participation at seminars and a short written paper (8–12 pages) in which the student tries a particular methodological procedure and supports his or her findings with relevant literature. The student must pass a written exam covering the entire course.


Anthropology of Consciousness and Practices of Awareness ǀ

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


Anthropology of Fertility ǀ

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


Cosmology of Mesoamerican Societies ǀ

Prof. Ivan Šprajc, Ph.D.,


Epistemological pluralism and “decolonizing” methods in ethnographic research ǀ

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


Laughing Politically: Toward the Anthropology of Humor ǀ

Prof. Tanja Petrović, Ph.D.,


Public anthropology, social engagement and activism ǀ

Assist. Prof. Ana Hofman, Ph.D.,


Research Methodology in Anthropological Linguistics ǀ

Assist. Prof. Karmen Kenda-Jež, Ph.D.,


Space and Movement: Towards Anthropology of Locations and Migrations ǀ

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