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Department of Linguistics | Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Simon Fraser University Calendar | Summer 2020

Linguistics of a First Nations Language

Master of Arts

This is a cohort program that is offered when resources allow. Students receive training for careers as language researchers, post-secondary educators, and material developers, gaining expertise in communicative skills, language documentation and analysis of a particular First Nations language. Emphasis is placed on the language in its socio-cultural and educational setting. The learning model integrates Indigenous Ways of Knowing with linguistic analysis and documentation, featuring mentorship and participation in projects in addition to formal lectures and paper writing. Courses are taught by teams of Elders and knowledge holders, and academic experts on the language.

The program is offered through a combination of SFU campus and First Nations community-based course modules. In order to accommodate the work schedules of participants who are language teachers in public schools, or who are otherwise fully employed, courses will be offered in late afternoons, evening and during summer breaks, in concentrated modules during fall and spring terms.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must satisfy the University admission requirements as stated in Graduate General Regulations 1.3 in the SFU Calendar. In addition, applicants must be proficient speakers of the language (as assessed by a panel of speakers or community-appointed experts), or be advanced learners who have, at minimum completed the SFU Certificate in First Nations Language Proficiency or equivalent with a CGPA of at least 3.0. Also admissible are students who have completed a BA or BEd and have studied both the language and some linguistics. Individuals who have not completed a bachelor’s degree may be considered for admission if they have completed at least three courses (for a minimum of 12 units) in the Graduate Certificate in the Linguistics of a First Nations Language with a CGPA of at least 3.0.

Program Requirements

This program consists of course work and project or a thesis for a minimum of 31 units.

Students must complete all of

LING 804 - Field Methods (3)

Students elicit, transcribe, organize, and analyze linguistic data collected from a native speaker of an unfamiliar, understudied, and often-unwritten language.

LING 830 - Phonetics and Phonology of a First Nations Language (4)

An introduction to the phonetics and phonology of a particular First Nations Language, with special reference to pronunciation and perception.

LING 831 - Morphology and Syntax of a First Nations Language (4)

An introduction to the morphology and syntax of a particular First Nations Language, with special reference to sentence structure and word architecture.

LING 832 - Narrative and Discourse Structure of a First Nations Language (4)

Transcription, creation, and analysis of the rhetorical and discourse structure of narratives in a First Nations language.

LING 833 - Socio-cultural and Cognitive Aspects of a First Nations Language (4)

An investigation of a particular First Nations language in its cultural, social, and cognitive context. Topics include: areal features, language families and dialects of Northwest languages, contact linguistics, gender, numeral classification, kin terms, anchoring language in time and space, expressing speaker’s viewpoint, oral traditions, place names, and ethnobiology.

LING 834 - Effective Pedagogies and Materials Development for First Nations Language (4)

Theoretical and practical aspects of teaching and learning First Nations languages. Topics include an overview of innovative methods and the development of materials that enrich the language learning environment, with examples from multiple indigenous languages.

LING 890 - Graduate Seminar I (1)

An introduction to professional aspects in the field of Linguistics. Course consists of seminars, lectures and workshops. Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

LING 891 - Graduate Seminar II (1)

An introduction to professional aspects in the field of Linguistics. Course consists of seminars, lectures and workshops. Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

and project

LING 893 - First Nations Linguistics MA Project (6)

Students complete this course when enrolled in the Linguistics of a First Nations Language MA program. Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

or a thesis

LING 898 - MA Thesis (10)

Students who are working on their Master of Arts thesis enroll in this course. Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

Program Length

Students are expected to complete the program requirements in four to six terms.

Other Information

Project Option

The First Nations Linguistics MA Project is examined by two examiners. A student who fails may be permitted a second attempt. Students present the project at a final MA cohort project symposium and submit their projects to the library.

Examples of suitable projects are: a linguistic analysis of some aspect of the language, the production and presentation of a video that documents use of the language; a digital media project that integrates visual, audio and textual resources in the language; an educational module for teaching the language; a museum exhibit that incorporates the language, or an annotated narrative or set of narratives transcribed, glossed and translated into English.

Thesis Option

The MA Thesis complies with GGR 1.9-1.11 including submission to the library. Students also present the thesis research at a final MA cohort project symposium.

Academic Requirements within the Graduate General Regulations

All graduate students must satisfy the academic requirements that are specified in the Graduate General Regulations, as well as the specific requirements for the program in which they are enrolled.