The Linguist’s Kitchen


Project Name: The Linguist’s Kitchen
Grantee: Ian Phillips
Discipline: Linguistics
Funding Cycle: 2014-2015
Project Status: In progress

About the Project

TheLinguistsKitchenThe goal of this project is to develop and implement The Linguist’s Kitchen—a web-based application designed to aid beginning linguistics students in learning core linguistic principles and practices through guided analyses of languages spoken in the home and community. It’s called a kitchen because it provides a space, tools, and recipes necessary for users to “cook” raw language data so it can be used for learning through conducting linguistic analyses. This app is designed to be instructive—it will be suitable for use in the classroom during instructor-guided practice and the intuitiveness of the clean design and operation of the functions will encourage self-guided learning through exploration outside of the classroom. While this app is designed primarily for educational purposes, its use will also generate a unique corpus of language data that will be extremely useful for researchers.

With this application, students will generate the data that will be used in learning and therefore can rely on their intuitions in conducting analyses. Because linguistic principles apply to all natural human languages, any language that students choose to work with can be used to teach the core concepts of the discipline. At each step in the analysis process, the application will guide users in choosing how to dissect their data, appropriately categorizing the resulting constituents, and generalizing over analyzed data to formulate appropriate descriptive rules. Practicing these processes on familiar languages will assist students in developing the skills and knowledge necessary to perform and understand linguistic descriptive analyses on unfamiliar languages, which are needed to make connections between theories and supporting data that are central to linguistic thought.

This type of environment promotes a student-centered learning experience where linguistic principles are learned by analyzing student-generated content. The pedagogical practices supported by The Kitchen also stand to increase student participation and interest in learning by relating theory to students’ experiences outside of the classroom and aligns with a critical pedagogy philosophy. The Linguist’s Kitchen supports and innovative and critical approach to teaching and learning linguistics by incorporating students’ own languages and experiences into learning, aiding them in objectifying their own language varieties—a major obstacle for students new to the discipline—and by providing the conceptual support and step-by-step guided practice necessary to develop a deeper understanding of linguistic principles and the data analyses on which these principles are built.

The full-scale version of this app will include workflow guides, links to online references, analysis tools, storage capabilities, and sharing functions. Users will be able to upload audio files of language samples recorded on their smartphones and store these data online. Users will then be able to select the type of linguistic analysis to perform, including syntactic, morphological, and phonetic/phonological, and the appropriate analysis tools and guides will be made available in the workspace.