The Navajo Language Program is commemorating fifty years of Diné language instruction at the University of New Mexico. We started as a single class in 1970 and have overcome numerous challenges and celebrated achievements while continuing to teach the Diné language throughout the years. During the 2020-2021 academic year, we celebrate five decades of memories, highlight our history, and recognize those who made the program what it is today. In this panel presentation, we will share our successes by focusing on our current work.
Since 1970, we have taught hundreds of classes, inspired new generations of Navajo speakers,studied the structure of the Navajo language through data-driven research, and produced seminal texts on the Navajo language and culture. The Navajo Language Program continues to work towards our mission of providing quality instruction of Navajo language and Navajo linguistics.
Today, we nurture diversity and promote the incorporation of culture into language instruction as together they contain a knowledge system and values unique to the Diné identity. Now more than ever, we recognize that the Navajo Language Program contributes to the maintenance and revitalization of the Diné language. This program continues to enhance and increase the landscape of diversity in scholarship at the University of New Mexico. Join us at HDLS celebration of our 50th anniversary.
Paradigmatic relations in Navajo morphology: learnability and the lexicon
Join us for a colloquium on Friday, March 6! Dr. Joyce McDonough from the University of Rochester will be presenting on “Paradigmatic relations in Navajo morphology: learnability and the lexicon” at 1pm in Humanities 134. ASL interpretation provided on request.
The Navajo ‘verb’ is a verbal complex constituting a complex ‘polysynthetic’ inflectional system that carries significant information. These verbal complexes reside dense neighborhoods of closely related forms that differ from each other in systematic and clearly learnable ways. Thus the relationship among these word forms must be reliable, and organized in ways that facilitate reliable patterns between a known word form and a related form. The goal of this research is to investigate the patterns that whole words participate in, to identify any constituent parts, and to provide a reliable description of the structure of verbal complex based on these patterns, and crucially not on decompositional morphemic analyses (i.e. templates), that may serves as a realistic working model of the organization of a native speaker’s lexicon.
Joyce McDonough is a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Rochester in Rochester New York. She is a phonologist and phonetician working on the sound structure of Navajo and its sister Athabaskan languages to understand a speaker’s knowledge of word structure, based on the understanding that speech is the primary means of communication and learning.
This is a panel presentation of Indigenous scholars from around the country. They will be discussing their work and focusing on issues of language revitalization, sustainability, and reclamation. A lunch catered by Florence Yepa will precede the panel presentations. The invited scholars include:
Dr. Keiki Kawai’ae’a, director of the College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawaii at Hilo
Lorraine Begay Manavi, Assistant Professor of Navajo Language at San Juan College
Jaeci Hall, Ph.D. Student at the Linguistics Department, University of Oregon