Linguistics Field Research Lab


We are faculty and students dedicated to the teaching and research of underdocumented and endangered languages. We are currently engaged in research projects on: Inuktitut (Inuit-Yupik-Unangan), Amahuaca (Panoan), Moro (Kordofanian), Choguita Rarámuri (Uto-Aztecan), San Juan Piñas Mixtec (Oto-Manguean), Ja'a Kumiai (Yuman), Rere (Kordofanian), Tira (Kordofanian), Huastec Nahuatl (Uto-Aztecan), Cahuilla (Uto-Aztecan), Hmong (Hmong-Mien), Xiapu Min (Min, Sinitic), Gua (Guang, Kwa), Teotepec Eastern Chatino (Oto-Manguean), Khalkha Mongolian (Mongolic), Turkish and Azerbaijani (Turkic).

We are committed to linguistic description and collaborative language documentation projects whose products serve both linguists and communities.

For more information, you can contact Gabriela Caballero (gcaballero at ucsd dot edu).

Many of our research projects have arisen through our Field Methods/Fieldwork classes:

  • 2005, 2006: Moro (Kordofanian; Sudan)

  • 2010: GiTonga (Bantu; Mozambique)

  • 2011: Purépecha (isolate; Mexico)

  • 2012, 2013: Ixpantepec Nieves Mixtec (Oto-Manguean; Mexico)

  • 2015: Bari (Nilotic; Sudan)

  • 2016: Ja'a Kumiai (Yuman; Mexico)

  • 2018, 2019: Koalib (Rere - ŋ̀rɛ́ɛ́ɽɛ̀) (Kordofanian; Sudan) and San Juan Piñas Mixtec (Oto-Manguean; Mexico)

  • 2020: San Juan Piñas Mixtec (Oto-Manguean; Mexico) and Mam (Mayan; Guatemala)

Find out about who we are, our working group, our projects, our research mentorship program, and recent news and events below.

News and Events


Michelle Yuan is co-organizing the 25th "Workshop on Structure and Constituency in Languages of the Americas" (WSCLA) together with Dr. Mike Barrie (Sogang University) and Dr. Maziar Toosarvandani (UC Santa Cruz). WSCLA brings together linguists who conduct research on indigenous languages of the Americas in order to exchange ideas across theories, language families, generations of scholars, and across the communities who are involved in language maintenance and revitalization. This year, WSCLA will take place virtually on May 28-30, 2021.

New faculty members join the Linguistics Field Research Lab and teach Field Methods

Emily Clem (Ph.D., UC Berkeley) and Michelle Yuan (Ph.D., MIT) both specialize in Syntax and Field Research and joined the department in 2019. Emily has conducted fieldwork in the Peruvian Amazon on Amahuaca (Panoan), and has also worked on Tswefap (Bantu). Michelle has carried out field research on Inuktitut (Inuit-Yupik-Unangan) and has also worked on Yimas (Lower-Sepik; Papuan) and Kikuyu (Bantu).

In Winter/Spring 2020, Michelle co-taught graduate Field Methods on San Juan Piñas Mixtec with Gabriela Caballero. Research is continuing on the language.

In Fall 2020, Emily taught undergraduate Field Methods on Mam. In Winter/Spring 2021 she is teaching graduate Field Methods.

The recent Annual Meeting in Phonology 6 was held at UC San Diego. It featured a "Methods in phonological data collection and analysis of underdocumented languages workshop" with three tutorials, funded by the National Science Foundation

Gabriela Caballero & Lucien Carroll presented "Underdocumented language data corpus construction" featuring Kwaras, the searchable web interface tool they co-developed with Russ Horton that links WAV audio files and time-aligned annotations produced with ELAN.

Marc Garellek presented "Electroglottography for voice analysis", and showed how it can be used for fieldwork. Michael Obiri-Yeboah helped out with the demonstration featuring EGG measures of ATR distinctions in Gua.

Bert Remijsen (U. of Edinburgh) presented a tutorial on "Investigating underdocumented tone systems" featuring languages of South Sudan.

Undergraduate Course in Linguistic Fieldwork!

  • The newly created LIGN 139: Field Methods class was taught in Spring quarter of 2018 and 2019 by visiting professor Justin McIntosh. Students in the classes worked in collaboration with Claudia Juárez, a native speaker of San Juan Piñas Mixtec (Tu'un Savi; Oto-Manguean). Claudia Duarte-Bórquez (BA 2019) presented her research from the class along with Justin and Claudia at the 22nd annual Workshop on American Indigenous Languages (WAIL) at UC Santa Barbara and at UCSD’s Undergraduate Research Conference.

  • In 2020, it was taught in the Fall by Emily Clem in collaboration with Angela Ramirez on Todos Santos Cuchumatán Mam.

Upcoming and recent presentations by lab members

  • Gabriela Caballero. 2021. TBD. Princeton Phonology Forum (PɸF 2020), Tone and phonological theory workshop, Princeton University (invited talk).

  • Sharon Rose. 2020. Tone patterns of object-marked verbs in Rere. 50th Colloquium on African Languages and Linguistics, Leiden University, Netherlands

  • Michelle Yuan. 2020. Deriving ergativity from object shift across Eskimo-Aleut. Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting, New Orleans.

  • Michelle Yuan & Ksenia Ershova. 2020. Dependent case in syntactically ergative languages: Evidence from Inuit and West Circassian. Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting, New Orleans.

  • Ray Huaute & Gabriela Caballero. 2020. Reduplication and syncope in Cahuilla distributive verbs. Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas Annual Meeting, New Orleans.

  • Emily Clem. 2020. Distinguishing switch-reference and relativization in Amahuaca. Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas Annual Meeting, New Orleans.

  • Nina Hagen Kaldhol. 2019. Gender and headedness in nominal compounds in Somali. Presentation at the 50th Annual Conference on African Linguistics, Workshop on Morphology and its guises, University of British Columbia.

  • Nina Hagen Kaldhol. 2019. Grammatical gender assignment to nominal compounds in Somali. Poster at the LSA Linguistic Institute, UC Davis.

  • Nina Hagen Kaldhol. 2019. Gender and tone assignment to nominal compounds in Somali. Presentation at the Departmental Linguistics Seminar, University of Gothenburg.

  • Gabriela Caballero. 2019. Tone and inflection in Choguita Rarámuri (Tarahumara): implications for the typology and theory of grammatical tone. Georgetown University Department of Linguistics Colloquium, November 8.

  • Gabriela Caballero. 2019. TBD. Georgetown University Fieldwork Forum (GUFF)/ Computational linguistics group joint meeting. November 8.

  • Farrell Ackerman. 2019. A neural network approach to Nandi number marking (with Rob Malouf). 4th American International Morphology Meeting, Stony Brook University.

  • Marc Garellek. 2019. The San Diego Hmong Language Project." Linguistic Research with Diaspora Communities. LSA Linguistic Institute Symposium, UC Davis.

  • Peter Jenks & Sharon Rose. 2019. Description in diaspora and the Moro Language Project. Linguistic Research with Diaspora Communities. LSA Linguistic Institute Symposium, UC Davis.

  • Gabriela Caballero & Austin German. 2019. Grammatical tone patterns in Choguita Rarámuri (Tarahumara). Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas, NYC.

Fieldwork 2020 - where were we?

  • Online on Zoom! - due to covid-19 restrictions, we have adapted some of our work to an online format.

Fieldwork 2019 - where were we?

  • US/Scandinavia - Nina was working on Somali with members of diaspora communities in the US, Norway and Sweden.

  • Mexico - Gaby, José Armando and Qi were working on Ja'a Kumiai; Justin was back in Oaxaca working with the Santa Lucía Teotepec Chatino community.

  • US - Ray continued to document Cahuilla on the Torres-Martinez Indian Reservation in Southern California.

  • Ghana - Michael was carrying out documentation work on Gua in Boso, Ghana, funded by a Firebird Fellowship.

  • Turkey - Nese was in Turkey working on vowel harmony in Eastern Turkish dialects, with support from the Friends of the International Center.

  • China - Yuan was in Fujian, China to document Xiapu Min, with support from the Friends of the International Center

  • Russia, Azerbaijan - Matt was working with speakers of many languages this summer in Russia and Azerbaijan. He is now in Georgia on a Fulbright fellowship for 2019-20.

  • Canada - Michelle was in the community of Nain, Nunatsiavut working on Labrador Inuttut.


We're located in the Applied Physics and Math Building, room 2452

Contact email: Gabriela Caballero (gcaballero at ucsd dot edu)

Mailing address: UCSD Linguistics Department, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0108