Logistics of linguistic fieldwork

Reflections from work in Indonesia


  • Marielle Butters University of Colorado at Boulder




This paper addresses practical aspects of conducting linguistic fieldwork and illustrates the application of fieldwork methods in targeting the semantics of negation. The paper is based on the author’s experiences working in various sites in Indonesia. The discussion includes important logistical challenges, such as deciding which language should be used to conduct fieldwork when the region is linguistically diverse, the benefits and drawbacks of explaining elicitation tasks, how fieldwork is impacted by collaborating with native speaker assistants or partners, and how to reconcile the researcher’s interests and the community’s interests. The issues explored in the paper are of value to both novice and seasoned fieldworkers, particularly those working in Indonesia or in other multilingual contexts. The paper is also of use to those pursuing analysis of negation, as it provides specific examples of how to elicit negation in a fieldwork setting where discourse contexts can be controlled.