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Linguistics Fridays: Leonard – Native American Linguistics

March 26, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Aspects of the Theory of Native American Linguistics

Wesley Leonard

Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, University of California-Riverside

Despite increased focus on Native American language community needs and values in the discipline of Linguistics, an ongoing frustration experienced by Native American scholars and community members is that linguists often default to colonial assumptions and categories in research, teaching, and service (Errington 2008; Hermes et al. 2012; Leonard 2017, 2018, 2021; Mellow 2015). For example, prototypical linguistic analysis often isolates, fragments, and dissects language in ways that can be alienating to Native American community members for whom language is conceived of relationally, not as a structural or cognitive object that can be thought of separately from culture or peoplehood. Using Native American needs and views of language as a baseline, I offer “Native American Linguistics” as a framework of doing linguistics that privileges Native American needs and intellectual traditions by centering Native American community perspectives, such as myaamia language teacher Jarrid Baldwin’s assertion that language is “how a community connects to each other and how they express … themselves and their culture to each other.” In this talk, I will outline key tenets of this approach, focusing on how it can promote scientific advancement while also addressing contemporary calls for social justice in linguistics research and education.



In addition to Dr. Leonard’s abstract, we would like to direct you to this Twitter thread, which will introduce you to an Indigenous feminist approach to the Q&A period (if you can’t open it, we’re also attaching a pdf – Eve Tuck Q/A). Although the online format of the talk will preclude the “peer review” of questions that is suggested, the thread is thought-provoking and relevant to the topic of the talk.



March 26, 2021
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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