Workshop on Special Topics in Field Linguistics  

Special Topics in Field Linguistics - exploring the grammar of social cognition in Mee (Ekagi)

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

Location: UNIPA, Manokwari, West Papua, Indonesia
Dates: 27 January 2014 - 4 February, 2014

Aims and Activities

This advanced-level workshop (Master class) will explore approaches to investigating issues of social cognition in grammar through intensive work on one Papuan language, Mee (also known as Ekari or Ekagi). We will work with Mee speaker Niko Kobepa, currently studying for his PhD in Linguistics at the ANU, and two other Mee speakers (Marius Kobepa and Alpius Kobepa) to record, analyse and describe grammatical phenomena in the realm of social cognition and multiple perspective. Participants will gain practice in how to:

  • identify research questions, integrating previous work with advanced current investigations
  • undertake in-depth investigation of specific grammatical topics, especially those relating to ‘social cognition’ in language
  • produce video recordings and transcriptions of a variety of language data (story-telling, elicitation, tasks with specially designed stimuli)
  • work with texts to carry out detailed, semantically sensitive investigations of particular grammatical categories
Considerations of archiving and ethical research will also be discussed.

Research focus

This workshop is an initiative of the international research project 'Complex perspective in epistemic assessment' (funded by the Swedish Research Council), and a flow-on from the project 'Language and Social Cognition: The Design Resources of Grammatical Diversity' (funded by the Australian Research Council), with additional support from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation through an Anneliese Maier Research Award to Nick Evans. Its 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, or that differentiate what we know about now from what we knew about at some earlier time.

Mee, 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 New Guinea's language heritage and to support excellence in linguistic research. It is timed to follow in the week and a half after the third WLP Conference in Manokwari (20-24 Jan 2014),


The workshop is led by:

We thank CELD (Centre for Endangered Languages, Manokwari) and in particular Mr Yusuf Sawaki for their kind support.

Who can participate?

The workshop is open to students and graduates who have completed at least three years of unversity-level 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 lila.san.roque AT

  • 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 27 Jan to Tuesday 4 Feb 2014, including Sat 1 Feb. It will conclude on the evening of Tuesday 4 Feb.

    A series of four to five additional lectures will be offered during the workshop, on topics pertaining to Language and Social Cognition, by Evans, Bergqvist and San Roque. 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 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: lila.san.roque AT

    Page location:
    Page last modified: 30 October 2013, Sydney