This workshop explores approaches to field work on under-studied languages, with a focus on investigating social cognition in grammar.

Location: University of Goroka, Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea (New location to be announced)
Dates: 25 November - 13 December, 2013 (New dates to be announced)

Aims and Activities

This intensive, three-week workshop will explore approaches to recording, analysing and describing under-studied languages, through intensive work on one Papuan language. Participants will work with speakers of Angal (Mendi), Foe or Fasu – the choice of language is yet to be finalized – to build skills and experience in linguistic field methods. They will gain practice in how to:

  • produce high quality video recordings and transcriptions of a variety of language data (conversation, story-telling, elicitation, experimental tasks with specially designed stimuli, using ELAN software)
  • work with existing grammatical descriptions and other written materials (identifying research questions, integrating previous work with current investigations, building electronic collections from old and new text material)
  • undertake in-depth investigation of specific grammatical topics, especially those relating to ‘social cognition’ in language

Considerations of archiving and ethical research will also be discussed.

Research focus

This workshop is an initiative of the international research projects ‘Complex perspective in epistemic assessment’ (funded by the Swedish Research Council) and 'Language and Social Cognition: The Design Resources of Grammatical Diversity' (funded by the Australian Research Council). A major aim for the workshop is to further understanding of how languages encode theory of mind and ‘multiple perspective’ in their grammars – in other words, of how they help us to represent what is in the minds of the other people in our social worlds, and how it differs from what is in our own. This includes, for example, morphemes that indicate whether knowledge of something is shared by speaker and addressee, or particular to only one of them.

The language we will focus on at the workshop is known to have unique and complex ways of marking attitudes toward speaker and addressee knowledge and we will use a variety of research methods to explore these fascinating but under-studied systems.

We want this workshop to help showcase the richness and diversity of Papua New Guinea’s language heritage and to support excellence in linguistic research long ples. We look forward to seeing you in Goroka!


The workshop is led by:

We thank the Department of Language and Literature at the University of Goroka and particularly, Anne-Marie Wanamp, Philip Tama and Ryan Shelby for their kind support.

Who can participate?

The workshop is primarily directed toward Papua New Guinean students who have completed three or more years of undergraduate study in linguistics and are committed to further work in linguistics or a related area. Other applicants with suitable experience and goals will also be considered.

Places are limited. If you would like to join us, please send the following information to

  • curriculum vitae
  • academic record
  • the name and contact details (including email address) of one referee
  • a cover letter explaining your interests and why you want to attend the workshop

Thank you.


The workshop will run weekdays from Monday to Friday. Participants will commit to put in 8 hours work a day, which will include class time, smaller group sessions, and private study. Participants will also be required to complete some background reading before the workshop begins.

The workshop is free of charge but participants need to cover their own accommodation and food costs during the 3 week period. In exceptional circumstances limited financial assistance may be available.

A list of useful preliminary readings will be posted at later date before the start of the workshop.

For further information please contact: