This volume is the result of a linguistic field excursion to South Africa in 2016. This excursion was the fourth field excursion carried out by Helsinki Area and Language Studies (HALS) during the years 2013-2016. HALS was formed with the aim of exploring new avenues towards collaborative research in language documentation and descriptive linguistics, with an explicit goal of incorporating ethnolinguistic and historical insights. Area-specific academic traditions and practices differ from one area to another. Across different geographical spaces, we find separate research traditions, different kinds of available source material, and varying linguistic settings. Therefore, language documentation, descriptive linguistics, and language sociological approaches vary between research sites.