WAIL 2018

Workshop on American Indigenous Languages

UCSB Department of Linguistics, April 20-21, 2018

McCune Conference Room, HSSB 6020


WAIL 2018 Registration Form

WAIL 2018 Draft Schedule

WAIL 2018 Flyer

The Linguistics department at the University of California, Santa Barbara announces its 21st Annual Workshop on American Indigenous Languages (WAIL), which provides a forum for the discussion of theoretical, descriptive, and practical studies of the indigenous languages of the Americas.

We are pleased to announce that our keynote speaker for this year will be Anthony K. Webster (University of Texas at Austin). Keynote will take place on Saturday, April 21st, 2018 at 12:30.


The Understanding of a Simple Poem: Seductive Ideophony, Misunderstanding and the Sounds of Navajo Poetry

Inspired by Edward Sapir’s suggestion that “the understanding of a simple poem” might be a key site for thinking through questions of linguistic relativity, I reflect on the social and linguistic processes of understanding and misunderstanding a “simple” poem. I begin by presenting a poem written in Navajo by Rex Lee Jim and four translations of the poem. Three will be from Navajo consultants and one of those translations will be, from a certain perspective, rather surprising. Namely, why does one consultant translate this poem as if it is composed of ideophones? The fourth translation is mine. I follow this by working through the morphology of the poem in Navajo and saying something more about the translators and the process of translation. I then provide a transcript of a conversation I had with Blackhorse Mitchell about this poem. I use this to take up questions of phonological iconicity (punning) and the seductive quality of ideophony. I also place this poem within a context of the stick dice game in Navajo philosophy. This leads, in the conclusion, to reflections about linguistic relativity, misunderstandings, sound, poetics and the role of a humanities of speaking in anthropology and linguistics.


New this year! Travel Scholarships

WAIL is pleased to announce the three selected recipients:

Jasmine Spencer, University of Victoria

Justin Pinta, The Ohio State University

Alonso Soto, Universidad de Sonora

The coordinators of WAIL are grateful for the support of the following groups on the UCSB campus:

  • UCSB Office of Student Life
  • UCSB Associated Students
  • UCSB Graduate Students Association
  • UCSB Linguistics Department