'Using Popular Media as a Tool for Engagement and Endangered Language Learning': Lecture by Tyler Peterson and Homecoming Writing Awards

Image of Tyler Peterson in front of a mural in downtown Phoenix / Photo by Deanna Dent-ASU Now

Linguist Tyler Peterson, an assistant professor in the Department of English, gives a talk about his work documenting endangered languages. Following Peterson’s presentation, winners of English's Homecoming Writing Awards will be announced and will read from their work.

Almost all indigenous languages of native North America are endangered, most of them critically. Of the key diagnostics linguists use to determine the endangered status of a language is intergenerational language transmission. In other words, are the children learning the language of their community? Younger people are searching for ways to engage with their language on their terms, allowing them to express their interests in a contemporary world. Given the availability and affordability of media-creating and sharing tools (i.e. a smartphone, a decent laptop and a YouTube account), younger people have taken matters into their own hands and are generating their own media in their languages for their own consumption, thus engaging themselves in language learning. Linguists and community language activists have picked up on this trend and are finding ways to build the capacities and resources in the communities that support these creative activities. In this talk, Peterson takes a look at these trends and some of the linguistic and cultural issues that arise.

Tyler Peterson joined the Department of English at ASU in January 2018 from the University of Auckland in New Zealand, where he was a lecturer in the Department of Applied Language Studies and Linguistics. His work focuses on the documentation, revitalization and maintenance of endangered indigenous languages, primarily in the Southwest U.S., Canada and Oceania.

Currently, Peterson is engaged in a linguistic fieldwork project with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and the San Carlos Apache Tribe, in which he has trained ASU students in language documentation techniques. For his studies of meaning in endangered and understudied languages, he has been awarded funding from various agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the U.S. Department of Education. Peterson holds a doctorate in linguistics from the University of British Columbia.

Kristen LaRue-Sandler
Department of English
Ross-Blakley Hall 117