All posts by Linguistics Department

Linguistics Department Update 02.27.2018

UHM Linguistics affiliates published together

Language Isolates, edited by Dr. Lyle Campbell, has been released in the Routledge Language Family series (2018). The work surveys the world’s language isolates, which form approximately one-third of the world’s “language families”. Contributions from people connected with University of Hawai’i linguistics (as current or former faculty and students) include a survey of the language isolates of Mesoamerica and Northern Mexico by Raina Heaton, a chapter on the endangerment of language isolates by Eve Okura Koller, a description of Burushaski by Alexander D. Smith, a sketch grammar of Ainu by Thomas Dougherty, and an introduction and a chapter on language isolates and their history by Lyle Campbell.

A.L. Blake awarded Luce Graduate Research Fellowship

A.L. Blake was awarded the Luce Graduate Research Fellowship for the project, “Documenting the botanical language of the Abui people of Alor Island, East Nusa Tenggara province, Indonesia.” Blake will be doing interdisciplinary research this summer in order to document ecological knowledge encoded in the Abui language. Emphasizing Abui nomenclature, classification, characteristics, and use of food- and medicinal- plants, the project generates Abui audio- and video- recordings, with accompanying transcriptions and translations, as well as high-quality photographic images of plants.

Ryan E. Henke presents at SSILA

PhD student Ryan E. Henke presented a paper, “The development of possession in the L1 acquisition of Northern East Cree”, at the 2018 Winter Meeting of the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas (SSILA) in Salt Lake City, UT. In support of this presentation, Henke was awarded a travel grant from SSILA.

Ryan E. Henke receives GSO Award

Congratulations to PhD student Ryan E. Henke for receiving a Graduate Student Organization grant award. This grant supported his summer research project assisting with community efforts to document Nakota, a Siouan language spoken in Alberta, Canada.

UH linguists publish new book about department’s Catalogue of Endangered Languages project

Cataloguing the World’s Endangered Languages, just published, describes the creation and findings of the Catalogue of Endangered Languages (ELCat, available at The chapter authors and the editors are current or former linguists in the UHM Department of Linguistics, and members of the ELCat team. The book is edited by Lyle Campbell and Anna Belew, with chapters written by Russell Barlow, Anna Belew, Lyle Campbell, Yen-ling Chen, Bryn Hauk, Raina Heaton, Nala Lee, Sean Simpson, and John Van Way.

Cataloguing the World’s Endangered Languages outlines the research on which ELCat is based, discusses challenges and approaches to large-scale language cataloguing, presents new findings about the state of the world’s endangered languages, and outlines ELCat’s potential applications for students, funding bodies, researchers, and language communities.

The book is published by Routledge, and can be seen at:

101 Problems and solutions in historical linguistics: a workbook

This 512 page workbook in historical linguistics, authored by Dr. Robert Blust, will be published by Edinburgh University Press in February, 2018. It contains 101 problems and solutions covering 5 distinct problem areas (the establishment of genetic relationship among languages, sound change, phonological reconstruction, internal reconstruction, and subgrouping). Flyers are being mailed to Dr. Blust, and should arrive soon.

Macanese Creole Patua is ‘Critically Endangered’

2014 PhD alumna Dr. Nala Huiying Lee has been featured in the Macau News for her study on Patua, a Portuguese-Asian Creole. The language has fewer than 50 speakers, making it “severely endangered” based on the absolute amount of speakers.

The study is also published in Language Documentation & Conservation Vol. 12 (2018), pp. 53-79.

To read the full original article on the Macau News website, please click here.

Dr. Al Schütz’s 1977 Publication Republished in Fiji Times Feature Series

Beginning in late 2017, the Fiji Times (“The First Newspaper Published in the World Every Day”) has been reprinting chapters of Albert J. Schütz’s Diaries and Correspondence of David Cargill, 1832–1843 (Australian National University Press, 1977). This book covers three main themes:

  1. The first deals with the Wesleyan missionaries’ conversion of the Fijians to Christianity.
  2. The second concentrates on linguistic matters: Developing Fijian’s unusual but efficient alphabet; writing the first grammar and dictionary of a Fijian language; discovering extensive language/dialect variation; and eventually choosing a lingua franca.
  3. The third describes Cargill’s extreme reaction to unimaginable “field” conditions in Tonga and Fiji, which eventually affected his professional and personal life.

Schütz is grateful to the Fiji Times editorial staff for making this book available to local readers, thus giving them easy access to an important, but mostly unknown, part of Fijian history.

Read the 9-part series:

  1. Part 1 (published 29 Oct, 2017)
  2. Part 2 (published 14 Jan, 2018)
  3. Part 3 (published 12 Nov, 2017)
  4. Part 4 (published 19 Nov, 2017)
  5. Part 5 (published 26 Nov, 2017)
  6. Part 6 (published 03 Dec, 2017)
  7. Part 7 (published 10 Dec, 2017)
  8. Part 8 (published 24 Dec, 2017)
  9. Part 9 (published 07 Jan, 2018)

Jonathan Kuo now in Tenure Track position

Another alumni update! Jonathan Kuo now has a tenure track position as Assistant Professor at National Taipei University of Technology.
Congrats, Jonathan!

2018 LSA Presentations

The following people will be presenting at the upcoming LSA Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City to be held from January 4th to January 7th, 2018:

1/4 (Thursday Evening Plenary Poster Session):
The role of real-world knowledge in second language sentence processing
Dr. Hyunah Ahn (SLS; University of Hawaii at Manoa)
Dr. William O’Grady (LING; University of Hawaii at Manoa)

1/7 (Sunday; Syntax and Typology):
Binding parameters in “symmetrical voice” languages: Austronesian vs. Dinka
Victoria Chen (University of Hawaii at Manoa)
Dr. Jonathan Kuo (National Taipei University of Technology)

The embedded topic construction in Puyuma and its implication for a typology of RTO
Victoria Chen (University of Hawaii at Manoa)


PhD candidate Bradley Rentz publishes article on Pohnpeian topological relations

PhD candidate Bradley Rentz has recently published an article in the journal Linguistics Vanguard titled “Topological Relations in Pohnpeian“.

As taken from Kudos:

This article examines how prepositions and prepositional nouns in Pohnpeian express topological space, how two entities are related in 2D space. This article used a new statistical method, evolutionary classification trees to model how the meaning of the prepositions and prepositional nouns and how they related to each other.

This article is the first article to examine topological relations in detail for the Pohnpeian language, as well as the first for any Micronesian language. It also uses an innovative statistical method to do so.

Professor Emeritus Al Schütz featured in Fiji Airways’ FijiTime

Professor Emeritus Al Schütz has been featured in an article published in the Fiji Airways in-flight magazine FijiTime. The article covers his extensive fieldwork in Fiji and his recently published Fijian Reference Grammar, an update to his 1985 publication The Fijian Language.

You can view the article here.