Research Articles

COVID-19 and documentary linguistics: Some ways forward

  • Nicholas Williams
  • W. D. L. Silva
  • Laura McPherson
  • Jeff Good


In the wake of widespread and ongoing travel restrictions that began in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many documentary linguists worldwide shifted to remote work methods in order to continue or, in some cases, begin new projects. This pandemic situation has prompted questions about both methodological and ethical considerations in doing remote fieldwork. In this paper, we discuss the pros and cons of working remotely and discuss ways of working remotely based on our experiences working on projects in West Africa, northwest Amazonia, and Indonesia. We argue that elements of remote fieldwork should become a permanent part of linguistic fieldwork, but that such methods need to be considered in the context of decolonizing language documentation and centering the community’s needs and interests.

Keywords: COVID-19, Pandemic, Remotee fieldwork, Documentary linguistics

How to Cite:

Williams, N., Silva, W., McPherson, L. & Good, J., (2021) “COVID-19 and documentary linguistics: Some ways forward”, Language Documentation and Description 20, 359-377. doi:

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Published on
31 Dec 2021
Peer Reviewed