Field Methods links

I. General principles

EMELD School of Best Practice

Matrix Oral History Project

Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project

Documentation of Endangered Languages (DOBES)

II. Audio Recording

A. Principles, techniques & sources for recommendations

  1. Resource Network for Linguistic Diversity
  2. Language Archives Newsletter
    esp. Vol. 1, Wittenburg et al., Digital Formats for Images, Audio, and Video
  3. The Vermont Folklife Center
  4. The Spoken Word Project
  5. The Transom: Jay Allison, The Basics (of field recording).
    Aimed at reporters, but relevant to linguists.

B. Recording equipment

  1. Terminology
  2. Recorders
    1. Edirol R-1 Portable Digital Recorder - $400
      specs, pix, & prices:
      tips & warnings:
      Vol. 6, Jukes & Nathan, Review: Roland Edirol R-1
      Note: apparently there have been problems with volume and battery usage with this device. See next entry for an improved version.
    2. Edirol R-09 Wav/MP3 Recorder - $400
      Records to SD (Secure Digital) cards, not compact flash.
    3. Marantz PMD 660 - $500
      specs, pix, & prices:
    4. MicroTrack 24/96 Professional 2-channel mobile digital recorder - $350
      specs, pix, & prices:
    5. Marantz PMD670, tabletop solid state recorder - $700
      specs, pix, & prices:
      reviews: Lynda says 'it's a bit delicate'
    6. Cassette recorder: Marantz PMD222 - $450
      specs, pix, & prices:
  3. Microphones
    Advice & explanations:
    1. Shure SM-58 - $100
      'The most popular all-purpose vocal mic in the world. Very rugged, good sound. Cheap.'
      specs, pix, & prices:
    2. Sennheiser 421 - $350
      specs, pix, & prices:
    3. Shure WH-20 headset - $130
      specs, pix, & prices:
    4. Windscreens:

    C. Digitizing/Editing/Converting

    1. Audacity from SourceForge - Free
      Clunky but adequate cross-platform (Mac, PC, Linux) program.
      To save wav files in MP3 format, you also need LAME:

      Tutorials available from the Audacity homepage.
      Easy to use for:
      • digitizing : allows you to record in 44.1/16-bit wav format (CD-quality, good for speech)
        or 96/24-bit wav (best for music.)
      • exporting in alternate formats, e.g. mp3, for working/presentation copies.
      • editing: trim noise, silence, microphone clunks, coughs, & gossip.

    2. SoundForge Audio Studio (PC) Campus Computer Store ~$50
      Slicker, easier-to-use, more powerful than Audacity.
    3. Peak (Mac) order online ~$129
      Slicker, easier-to-use, more powerful than Audacity.
    4. Flying Cow (analog-to-digital converter) $290
      Best quality = 44.1/24. Good enough for speech. You'll also need a sound card with SPDIF (digital) input.
    5. Lucid DA9624 (analog-to-digital converter) $600
      Best quality = 96/24. Also will need a sound card w/SPDIF input.
    6. M-Audio MobilePre-USB (analog-to-digital converter) $135 Best quality = 44.1/16. Good enough for speech. Connects to either Mac or PC through USB.

    III. Video Recording

    A. Principles & techniques

    1. School of Best Practice
    2. Equipment recommendations from DOBES
    3. General information about video on the internet,
      esp. links to free video editing software and information.
    4. Microsoft MovieMaker for Beginners
      Mostly for vacation videos, but some useful advice for linguists.

    B. Equipment

    1. Sony DCR-TRV19 - $400
      mini-DV format, no analog inputs
    2. Sony HandyCam DCR-TRV900 - $1632 (rec. by MPI)
      3 CCD, mini-DV format, analog inputs
    3. Accesories (rec. by MPI)
      • A UV filter: minimizes blurring, keeps lens dust free.
      • additional lenses for wide angle and the necessary filters,
      • tripod,
      • spare batteries,
      • chargers (car, solar, mains)
      • microphones and headphones.

    C. Digitizing/Editing/Converting

    How to articles:
    Digital Video cameras buying guide;1847886895
    1. Lists of freeware
    2. Microsoft Movie Maker (free download)
      titling; input: - practically everything; export: wmv, wma, (dv)avi
    3. Apple iMovie HD 6 (free w/new Mac; w/out $20, inc. iDVD)
      titling; dv, hdv, mpeg-4 input formats; export to iDVD in .mov only
    4. AVS Video Converter (PC) - $30
      Seems to convert from anything to anything

    IV. Texts

    A. Fonts

    1. The Unicode home page
    2. Doulos SIL Unicode IPA
    3. Claris SIL
      A single Unicode-based font family that contains near-complete coverage of all the characters defined in Unicode 4.1 for Latin and Cyrillic-based writing systems, whether used for phonetic or orthographic needs. In addition, there is provision for other characters and symbols useful to linguists. These fonts make use of state-of-the-art font technologies to support complex typographic issues, such as the need to position arbitrary combinations of base glyphs and diacritics optimally.
    4. Arial Unicode - $100
    5. Lucida Unicode
      Comes installed with Windows XP and Mac OSX (called Lucida Grande)

    B. Keyboard layouts

    (for your character set, from Anthony Aristar)
    1. General explanations
    2. Programs for defining your own keyboard:

    C. Text formats

    About XML:
    Sperberg-McQueen, C. M. and Lou Burnard, 2001. A Gentle Introduction to XML.
    Chapter 2 of TEI P4: Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange,
    XML-compatible edition. TEI Consortium.
    Available at:

    D. Transcription & Annotation

    1. Transcriber - Free
    2. Shoebox - $25
      Helpful guides from linguists at University of Melbourne:
    3. Toolbox - Free
    4. Elan - Free from MPI

    V. Miscellaneous equipment

    1. Batteries:
    2. Cables:
    3. Compact flash cards - 2GB = $209
    4. Secure Digital cards - 4GB = $85
    5. World Electric Guide
      Information about power supply in every country in the world, including what kinds of plugs are used where. Note: you can get a kit with all the adapters you could ever need at Whole Earth Provision Company.
    6. Card reader - ~$50
      Connects to your laptop through a USB port and allows you to read in the data (audio & video) from your compact memory cards.!654&keyword=%28compact+flash+card+reader%29
    7. A bag to put all this stuff in ~$200
      Line it with bubble wrap or high density foam to protect your equipment.
      Carryon size: 'The safe maximum size is 45", in the form of a 22" x 14" x 9" bag. Some airlines allow up to as much as 55", but most do not.'
      All the bags you'll every need: