Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald
September 25, 2009
Linguistic fieldwork is the backbone of an empirically-based science of linguistics. Firsthand information on barely known minority languages is essential for our understanding of human languages, their structural properties and their genetic relationships. ‘Immersion’ fieldwork as major ‘must’ is contrasted to ‘interview’ fieldwork as a less desirable option. We aim at an open-ended documentation of each language, intended for various audiences, being both accessible and user-friendly. This introductory essay introduces a number of issues concerning linguistic fieldwork, discussed in some detail by the contributors to this issue, each a highly experienced fieldworker and a recognised authority in their fields. This is what makes the issue special.