Lecture by Andrew Garrett, October 17, 2014

Linguistic Contributions to Native California Language Teaching

Andrew Garrett, Linguistics Department, UC Berkeley

Academics with PhDs in linguistics rarely have graduate training in language learning or language teaching; applied linguistics is not often part of a linguistics graduate program, and when it is the students in applied linguistics and in theoretical and descriptive linguistics are sometimes rather segregated. Yet the modern field of documentary linguistics emphasizes that linguists who work on underdescribed, endangered languages should provide help to language restoration projects in the community if such help is needed. Sometimes a linguist whose research interests are highly theoretical is the only outsider with detailed knowledge of a language whose community is greatly in need of language teaching support.
In this talk I will describe my experiences working with the Karuk and (mainly) Yurok languages of northern California, and trying to learn how to make useful contributions to language restoration. Both languages are severely endangered: Karuk has at most about half a dozen fluent first-language speakers and Yurok may have as few as zero; both also have very active language teaching programs. I will talk about contributions that colleagues, students, and I have been able to make, about where I think we have failed (and succeeded), and about ways in which the ethical imperative to aid Native language teaching has led to restructuring and reorienting of research questions.

Friday, October 17, 2014
3 – 5 pm, B4 Dwinelle Hall


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