In Discourse Analysis

2023 Workshop in Discourse Analysis

Canada Institute of Linguistics is pleased to offer Workshops every summer, currently alternating between a Workshop in Discourse Analysis and a Workshop in Grammatical Description (2024). The next Workshop in Discourse Analysis will be held in Summer 2023, with the full 9-week session running from June 12 to August 11, 2023. The application is now open. See the Apply Now link below.


Canada Institute of Linguistics (CanIL) at Trinity Western University, in Langley, British Columbia is pleased to offer a Workshop in Discourse Analysis, led by Dr. Steve Nicolle, in the Summer of 2023.

Participants in the workshop will sit in on Dr. Nicolle’s lectures for the Discourse Analysis course, apply the principles learned there to the language project he/she is working in, and spend weekly one-on-one consultation time with an advisor. Participants may take the full 9-week workshop, or may elect to take just Narrative Discourse Analysis (the first half of the workshop), or just Hortatory/Expository Discourse (the second half of the workshop). One day each week will be dedicated to presentations by workshop participants and open discussion of issues in discourse analysis.


"I talked to the mother-tongue translator about the various things I'd learned this summer. At first she didn't think they really used tenses other than simple past so much, or the pronouns, so I asked her to retell me some of the stories she had translated. As she was talking, she realized that yes, she DOES use those tenses and pronouns! I took Genesis 24 and revised it according to what I thought was natural, based on my studies....changing some of the connectives, pronouns, and tenses. When I read it aloud to her she said "Yeah, now it sounds just like the kind of story we tell!" She realized that she had been translating verse by verse and hadn't really paid attention to the structure of the whole story." —K, previous workshop participant


The schedule is not yet set for 2023, but the workshop used the following schedule in 2021:

Week 1: Introduction and charting.
Weeks 2-4: Topics in narrative discourse analysis.
Week 5: Analysis and writing up; sharing findings. (Introduction and charting for new participants just joining for hortatory/expository discourse analysis.)
Week 6-8: Topics in hortatory/expository discourse analysis.
Week 9: Analysis and writing up; sharing findings.


The Workshop in Discourse Analysis is designed for experienced Bible translators, translation advisers and consultants, and linguistic fieldworkers working in any of the under-documented languages of the world. Participants in the workshop may work individually or as part of a team analyzing the same language. Participants should have access to an annotated (glossed and translated) digital database of at least four narrative and four hortatory and/or expository texts. (Instructions on suitable texts and how to obtain them will be provided to those who express an interest in the workshop.)

The workshop has three main aims:

  1. To provide workshop participants with the resources and opportunity to describe the linguistic features of narrative, hortatory and expository texts in a language with which they are familiar;
  2. To analyze New Testament passages and address discourse-related issues relevant to the translation of this material into other languages;
  3. To equip workshop participants to assist others to translate narrative, hortatory and expository material into their own languages accurately, naturally and clearly.


The workshop will be organized as follows:

  • Plenary sessions: 1½ hours a day four days a week, involving a combination of presentations by the workshop staff, group analysis of biblical passages and texts provided by the workshop participants, and presentations by the workshop participants of the work they are doing.
  • Advising sessions: Each individual or team who is participating in the workshop will be assigned an advisor early on. The individual/team will meet with their advisor for up to one additional hour each day.
  • The rest of the work day will involve individual research and writing.
  • During the first week, training will be provided in how to create text charts using SIL’s FieldWorks Language Explorer (FLEx) software.


  • Linguistics training including introductory morphology and syntax
  • A corpus of language data to work with
  • Permission of the instructor


The Workshop in Discourse Analysis is not a for-credit course and thus cannot be applied toward a degree. However, the first five weeks of the workshop overlap with the CanIL LING 491 (undergraduate) and LING 691 (graduate) Discourse Analysis course. If you would like to take LING 491/691 for university audit or university credit, please contact the CanIL Admissions team at for more information.

Where possible, it is hoped to pair workshop participants with CanIL students taking the LING 491/691 course. This pairing is designed to be mutually beneficial: the workshop participants will mentor students and orient them to the languages being studied; each student will chart at least one text and write a detailed account of two narrative discourse features of the language they have been introduced to.

Workshop Costs ($CAD):

If you are interested in participating in the Workshop in Discourse Analysis, please consider the following details and steps:

  • Complete the Workshop application below. The application deadline is March 31, 2023. (Your application will then be reviewed by the facilitator, and CanIL Admissions staff will contact you regarding your potential participation in the workshop.)
  • The registration fee for the Workshop in Discourse Analysis is $500 CAD. Accepted participants must pay this fee by April 30, 2023, to confirm their participation in the workshop. (Later payment may be considered for those with extenuating circumstances).

About the Workshop Leader

Dr. Steve Nicolle has conducted training in discourse analysis of spoken and signed languages in various African countries, India and Canada. He is currently Associate Professor of Linguistics at CanIL and Director of the Master of Arts in Linguistics and Translation program at ACTS Seminaries. Before joining CanIL, Steve worked as a translation adviser with the Digo Language & Literacy Project in Kenya, as a linguistics consultant and translation consultant with SIL, as a linguistics coordinator for SIL Africa Area, and as head of the Department of Language, Linguistics & Translation at Africa International University (formerly Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology).