A Training Program in African Linguistics and Language Documentation: Fieldwork Opportunity in Ghana

Published: January 26, 2018

This project is a unique opportunity to conduct fieldwork on under-documented and endangered languages in Ghana.  We seek early-career doctoral and masters students who plan to pursue a Ph.D. in linguistics and who are seriously considering writing a thesis involving linguistic fieldwork and language documentation.  We are also seeking graduating or recently graduated undergraduates who plan to pursue an advanced degree in linguistics.  We will take into consideration previous training and achievements in linguistic fieldwork and language documentation, and evidence of interest in the languages of Africa, especially those of Ghana.  This is an opportunity for students to gain experience in field linguistics and qualifications that would facilitate applying for dissertation funding by the NSF Documenting Endangered Languages – Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grants.

The goal of this project is to increase the number of African language specialists at institutions in the USA by getting early-career linguists involved in hands-on field research in Africa.  Therefore, we are particularly interested in participants who can see themselves conducting fieldwork in Africa as part of their doctoral or MA research and beyond.  Participants will spend two weeks in classes at the 2018 CoLang Institute (https://colang.lin.ufl.edu/), to be held at the University of Florida, starting in mid-June 2018.  Participants will then travel with a research team consisting of the two PIs (Dr. Harold Torrence and Dr. Jason Kandybowicz), a postdoctoral scholar, a graduate research assistant, and other awardees to Ghana to conduct six weeks of fieldwork.  By participating in the project, participants will gain valuable training in linguistic fieldwork and language documentation in the USA and then have the chance to immediately apply this knowledge onsite in Ghana.  Additionally, students are asked to make a commitment to write a research paper for presentation at a professional academic conference in 2019.

Funding:  Students will receive funding for food, lodging, airfare and travel expenses, and a stipend of $3000.

Dates:  The project will begin in June 2018 and end in June 2019.  Participants will attend the 2018 CoLang Institute from mid-June 2018 to July 1, 2018.  Following this, participants will conduct fieldwork in Ghana from July until mid-August 2018.

Participant Background:  Applicants must be either graduate students or advanced undergraduates at US institutions who are excited about the chance to conduct fieldwork in Africa.  Applicants need not be US citizens.

Application Deadline and Timeline:  We will review applications until we have decided on the awards.  Applicants should have their materials submitted by February 28, 2018.  We will conduct interviews and will inform selected participants by mid to late March 2018.

Submission Guidelines:  Applicants should submit the following:

(1) A maximum two-page statement, explaining: (a) why the applicant is interested in participating in the project; (b) the applicant’s academic background; (c) how participation in this project fits in with the applicant’s long term educational and career goals; and (d) evidence of ability to work independently and/or self-motivate.

(2) a CV

(3) A copy of their transcripts (These can be unofficial.)

(4) A writing sample (which does not have to be on an African language) (Students who have completed relevant research papers may send one such paper as well.)

(5) Applicants should arrange for two letters of recommendation to be sent by the deadline to ghanaproject@.ucla.edu.  The email with the letter of recommendation should have the subject line: Ghana Summer Fieldwork: student name.  Letter writers should comment on the applicant’s academic preparation, level of maturity and self-motivation.

For more information, please contact Jason Kandybowicz (jkandybowicz@gc.cuny.edu) or Harold Torrence (htorrence@humnet.ucla.edu).