Semantic elicitation frames and their application

  • Signe Rix Berthelin Norwegian University of Science and Technology


Most semantic fieldwork studies seem to make use of elicitation in the sense of Matthewson (2004) at some point in the data collection process. It is therefore necessary to discuss and develop this technique in addition to innovative techniques such as storyboards and video. The present paper discusses the application of different types of elicitation questions, which I shall call ‘elicitation frames’. The elicitation frames are concrete sub-types of Bohnemeyer’s (2015) elicitation types. With examples from my own fieldwork, the paper shows what the employment of the elicitation frames may look like in actual interview sessions, and it discusses how the data they elicit can shed light on different hypotheses from different angles. The applications of the respective frames are also discussed in relation to individual consultant’s preferences. The intention is to contribute to explicit and critical reflections on the relation between hypothesis, elicitation frame and data point. The paper is thus primarily concerned with methodology. However, we generally want to present the collected data and make it useful to the scientific community and to the language community. The paper therefore includes two brief sections which address these matters: One discusses the option for using quotes in journal publications as a way to increase transparency and show how the language consultants have phrased their explanations of the subtle meaning nuances in the language that belongs to them. The other brief section shows an option for converting elicitation data into teaching materials.