Department of Anthropology

Linguistics: 2007 Summer Field School

Students Inaugurate Research Careers
During Summer Field School in Linguistics
Summer Field School

During the First Summer Session of 2007, an innovative collaboration between the CSU Interdisciplinary Program in Linguistics and the Department of Anthropology, with the support of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, provided four undergraduate majors in Linguistics with a unique type of opportunity to make significant research contributions which at other institutions would be available only to advanced graduate students. Dr. Lewis, together with Dr. Barbara Hoffman, then Director of Linguistics, and Dr. Paul Aspelin, Interim Chair of Anthropology, conceived and developed a new program wherein students would simultaneously receive intensive training in research methodology, and then immediately apply their newly-acquired knowledge, skills and techniques to an ongoing research project of cross-disciplinary significance.[1]


Summer Field School

As participants in CSU's inaugural Summer Field School in Descriptive Linguistics, conducted by Dr. Lewis, the students thus received intensive training in the essential research methods used by linguists to reveal the grammatical and semantic structures of languages with which a researcher has little prior familiarity. Armed with these new techniques, the four students then changed hats each day and served as Research Assistants in Dr. Lewis' research project on The Grammatical Structuring of Motion Events in Ewe and Gen. To pursue this initiative, the four Research Assistants along with Dr. Lewis met daily in extended elicitation sessions with Dedo Mawuli, a native speaker of Ewe, who is also a CSU student. The students and Dr. Lewis would then re-convene daily for a de-briefing session, to analyze the day's findings, discuss their implications and plan and prioritize the agenda for the next day's elicitation session. The students were thus given shared responsibility for research design as well as execution of the investigative protocols and interpretation of the data.


Summer Field School

The success of the Summer Field School serves the participating students in a variety of ways. First and foremost, it provides them with an invaluable capstone experience that instills a different type of expertise than what is normally available in a classroom environment. Secondly, this entry on their Curriculum Vitae will stand out in salient fashion when they apply for graduate school. Thirdly, the research experience itself will give them a major head start in making a seamless transition from the undergraduate to the graduate level of study. Finally, in the shorter term, the four students will have the opportunity to be co-authors in a paper reporting the research findings emerging from this collaborative study at a major interdisciplinary meeting to be held at CWRU, the next conference on Conceptual Structure, Discourse, and Language.


[1] Dr. Marshall Lewis of the CSU Department of Anthropology is engaged in ongoing research on the languages of Togo and Ghana, especially Ewe (pronounced eh-vay), with major focus on how the various semantic components of Events are expressed by the grammars of these West African languages. One aspect of his investigations is how these grammars organize the depiction of Events involving Motion through space, a topic that is currently of considerable interdisciplinary interest, spanning linguistics, anthropology, psychology, and cognitive science.

engaged learning
Mailing Address
Cleveland State University
College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences
Department of Anthropology
2121 Euclid Avenue, CB 119
Cleveland, OH 44115-2214
Campus Location
Chester Building, Room 119
2300 Chester Avenue
Contact
Barbara G. Hoffman
b.hoffman@csuohio.edu
Phone: 216.687.3549
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