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21 Surprises in Sutherland: Linguistic Variability amidst Social Uniformity (2001)

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Chapter Summary

The last thing the author would have expected to find in populations of exceptional social uniformity is marked individual linguistic variability, but that's exactly what she did find in long-term fieldwork with Scottish Gaelic in Sutherland, in the far north of mainland Scotland. En route to explaining how Sutherland became the author's research site and what she found in it, the chapter proposes to look at some general issues in field research: What entices a student linguist into the field? How usefully can a research project be focused before the researcher is personally familiar with the field site? When is a fieldwork project "finished"? How do the professional and the personal experiences of fieldwork conflict or balance? A student making routine progress through an academic program volunteers for some discomfort in leaving the familiar academic environment for a fieldwork setting.

Keywords: field research; linguistic variability; Scottish Gaelic; social uniformity; Sutherland



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