Colloquium: Wesley Leonard (University of California, Riverside)

Event Date: 

Thursday, April 5, 2018 - 3:30pm

Event Location: 

  • South Hall 3605

Speaker: Wesley Leonard (University of California, Riverside)

Topic: "Toward a Native American Linguistics"

Reception: All are invited to a reception following the talk

Toward a Native American Linguistics

Wesley Y. Leonard

Miami Tribe of Oklahoma;

Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies, University of California, Riverside


Despite increased focus on Native American language community needs and values in the discipline of Linguistics, an ongoing challenge experienced by Native American scholars and community members occurs when linguists operate with colonial assumptions and categories in research, teaching, and service (see Errington 2008; Hermes, Bang, & Marin 2012; Leonard 2017; Mellow 2015). For example, linguistic analysis conducted within the norms of the discipline tends to isolate, fragment, and dissect language in ways that can be alienating to Native American community members for whom language is not an object that exists separately from culture or peoplehood. Using Native American needs and views of language as a baseline, I propose “Native American Linguistics” as a framework to address this and related limitations in the current field. I will offer strategies for better integrating Native American needs and epistemologies of language into linguistic science, and will discuss the broader implications of this approach.