EOC defined

Theoretical overview

S.P.E.A.K.I.N.G.: A research tool

Applying S.P.E.A.K.I.N.G.

Sample study

Conducting your own study

Check your understanding

Sources for this Web site

Additional readings



Conducting Your Own Study

Two steps to conducting fieldwork

  1. When you begin to study a speech community, you should take notes. These notes are called "field notes." There are standard ways to write these notes so that they will be useful to both you, as a researcher, as well as to other scholars.

One way to write notes is by using a method proposed by Schatzman & Strauss (1973). This method includes indicating and differentiating

"Observation Notes," -- details that you notice about the setting and communicative features of your speech community;

"Methodological Notes," -- those features of your research that are related to your data collection and analysis that impact what you are collecting or how you might analyze your data later; and

"Theoretical Notes" (p.99) -- areas that relate to the communication theory that you are using that may change from examining this culture.

An additional kind of category was added by Hastings (1992), called "Personal Notes" -- to indicate any other feature of your participation in the community or idea you had that does not fit into one of the other categories.

You may use some, all or none of your notes in any specific analysis.

  1. When you are studying a speech community, you may also want to record what you hear and see by audio- and video-tape. Using electronic recordings will help you refer to the actual words spoken by participants and the accuracy of electronic recordings far surpasses what you can write by hand in your notes.  Then you will usually transcribe parts of the tapes. Transcription is the process of copying the words said or actions taken from the tapes. The first to propose a system of turn taking and transcription notation was Sacks, Schegloff & Jefferson (1974).

    Variations on this system have also been proposed by Goodwin (1990, p.25) and others, but one of the most commonly used variations is by Jefferson, G. (1984).

    An example of an excerpt of data reported using the Jefferson transcription system is from an Asian Indian named, Nagesh, who described his first experiences on arriving to the United States (Hastings, 2001):

1 N:   first couple days (0.5) I knew about I cam to

2        know about at leas::::t fifty or like hundred Indians

3        because (0.5) every place like I go and like almost

4        everybody had gone to that place so I (.) that day I

5        came to know about a lot of people (.) like I started

6        making contacts and like my Indian circle grew

7        quickly like because everybody has the same=

8 S:    =like with the Indian culture and my little circle

9       too (.) very different (0.5) people are helpful in

10     India

Where the following notations were used:

(.)          micro-pause, 2/10 second or less

(2.5)      length of a silence

:::           prolonging of sound

Never    stressed syllable or word

=            continguous utterances


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