Workshop on conducting sociolinguistic research on Englishes near and far By Tino Oudesluijs

Sociolinguistic and dialectological fieldwork can be a time-consuming and exhausting enterprise. It can nevertheless also be immensely rewarding, since it usually allows the researcher to collect previously unrecorded data, the analyses of which can result in new linguistic hypotheses. To date, it is, however, an underexposed part of the research process in the sociolinguistic literature. For this reason, Prof. dr. David Britain, together with Dr. Susan Fox, Tobias Leonhardt and Dominique Bürki (all from the University of Bern), organised a workshop to introduce the participants to this fundamental aspect of sociolinguistic research. Prof. Kazuko Matsumoto (University of Tokyo), Prof. Daniel Schreier (University of Zürich), Dr. Andrea Sudbury (University of London) and PhD student Nicole Eberle (University of Zürich) were invited to come to Schloss Münchenwiler and share some of their first-hand experience with the participants.

The workshop lasted three days, starting on Friday at 13:00 and finishing on Sunday at lunchtime. This enabled the invited speakers not only to present their research and experience during lectures but also to lead interactive seminars in which everyone was encouraged to discuss the different aspects of sociolinguistic research. Finally, all participants were asked to present their own research, which gave everyone the possibility to obtain feedback from both the other participants as well as the experienced researchers.

On Friday, after a short introduction by Prof. David Britain, Dr. Andrea Sudbury, who went to the Falkland Islands, and Prof. Kazuko Matsumoto, who went to Micronesia, were the first to discuss the many difficulties researchers face when doing sociolinguistic fieldwork. Both revealed that whereas certain problems that researchers face are often of a similar origin, the approaches to such problems can differ greatly depending on the cultural and sometimes even climatological differences. At the end of the afternoon, five of the doctoral participants presented their own research, most of which was still in its early stages. As one of the participants, I found this a most profitable endeavour since all of the experts were able to give useful feedback and tips, and most of the doctoral students were introduced to different topics and approaches in the field.

On Saturday morning, Dr. Andrea Sudbury led an interactive workshop in which she asked all participants to think about and subsequently discuss the different topics discussed on Friday, stressing the practical aspect of getting to know the people you intend to interview for your research as well as their culture. As was the case the day before, everyone could have done with much more time to discuss every possible aspect of the field, and, unsurprisingly, both the coffee and lunch breaks were used well to continue many discussions. Prof. Daniel Schreier from the University of Zürich, who presented other possible solutions to many earlier discussed problems, concluded the morning session, and after the lunch break, the remaining doctoral students presented their research. The day was concluded with a guided tour through the lovely city of Murten, and, as was the case on Friday, a most delicious dinner was offered back at the Schloss in Münchenwiler. Sunday morning consisted of another interactive seminar, which was hosted by Prof. Kazuko Matsumoto, and a talk by Nicole Eberle from the University of Zürich. Both speakers offered, once again, some new insights into the practical aspects of sociolinguistic research.

The speakers at the workshop successfully managed to present, highlight, question and discuss the many different practical aspects of carrying out sociolinguistic fieldwork. Many relevant insights and methodologies were offered to all the doctoral students who participated, notably also to students who work in different research fields.

On behalf of all the participants, I wish to thank the organisers once again for such an interesting and, most of all, extremely useful workshop.