LINGUIST List 14.2205

Wed Aug 20 2003

Qs: Pitch Analysis In Speech; Field Methods Course

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  1. Marie Safarova, Analyzing pitch in speech and in music
  2. Christopher Miller, field methods course: human subject issues

Message 1: Analyzing pitch in speech and in music

Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2003 08:20:31 +0000
From: Marie Safarova <>
Subject: Analyzing pitch in speech and in music

I´d be grateful for any references to literature on the connections
between the meaning of pitch in speech and in music (possible
parallels, difficulties, etc). Many thanks, Marie Safarova University
of Amsterdam
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Message 2: field methods course: human subject issues

Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 15:35:29 -0400
From: Christopher Miller <>
Subject: field methods course: human subject issues

This year I will be teaching a field methods course for second year
graduate students at Gallaudet University. Naturally, this course
involves working with a (paid) language consultant, in other words a
human subject. Over the year, students will obtain data from the
consultant and will prepare a descriptive paper at the end of the
course based on their data. Since this course deals with sign
languages (i.e. a sign language other than ASL), data will be recorded
by videotaping the consultant's productions. Just last week, the
question came up of whether filming our consultant requires the course
to receive a blanket approval from our university's Institutional
Review Board. (Since the consultant will be videotaped, this means
s/he would be readily identifiable in the future.) Additionally, the
university requires that unless the videotapes are archived, they must
be destroyed after two years.

I am scheduled to meet with the head of our IRB later this week, and
would like to get a feel for practice in other universities before I
talk with him. My position, supported elsewhere in the department, is
that given the nature of a field methods course, we would hope for
exemption from the normal approval needed prior to undertaking any
research with a human subject.

I realise that most people on LINGUIST will only have dealt with human
subjects issues in spoken languages, where videotaping (and subject
identifiability) probably wouldn't pose the same kind of difficulties.
Nonetheless, I would be grateful for any input other people involved
in field methods courses, involving either spoken or signed languages,
could give me. What has your experience been? Have you had to deal
with any unexpected or unusual ethical issues? Has your institution
required IRB approval for working with a human subject? Has the
institution required you to restrict in some way the subsequent use of
data obtained in the course? (E.g. destruction of original data, ban
on publication or dissemination of results, signed undertakings on the
part of course participants?)

I look forward to your feedback,

Chris Miller
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