Category Archives: General Interest

Ka Leo Features New ASL Course

Ka Leo (also known as Manoa Now), the student-run campus newspaper, featured an article on our new ASL course for Fall 2018 taught by incoming Ph.D. student Emily Jo Noschese. Dr. Kamil Deen and Dr. James ‘Woody’ Woodward were both featured as interviewees, and discussed the current KCC offerings, HCC’s new course, and the potential future for ASL and HSL in the UH System.

To read the article, please visit http://bit.ly/UHMASL18.

Remembering Derek Bickerton

Derek Bickerton, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, passed away on March 5, 2018 at the age of 91.

A seminal thinker and visionary, Derek laid out an important goal for himself, which he described in the introduction to The Roots of Language (1981), one of the most discussed books in the history of linguistics:

Language has made our species what it is, and until we really understand it—that is, understand what is necessary for it to be acquired and transmitted, and how it interacts with the rest of our cognitive apparatus—we cannot hope to understand ourselves. And unless we can understand ourselves, we will continue to watch in helpless frustration while the world we have created slips further and further from our control.

Derek pursued the goal of understanding language and humanity with unwavering intensity throughout his life, developing and extending his ideas in Language and Species (1990), Bastard Tongues (2008), Adam’s Tongue (2009), and More than Nature Needs (2014), as well as in numerous papers, presentations and speeches over four decades. The origin of language, the genesis of pidgins and creoles, and the nature of the genetic endowment for language were endlessly fascinating to him, and he wrote about them with ever-increasing eloquence and insight.

Derek relished disagreement and controversy, recognizing turmoil as the cost of moving forward. People listened to him, and he made a lasting difference—in linguistics and in the lives of his students and colleagues. I speak from experience in this regard. He was the first person to reach out to me when I arrived in Mānoa as a visiting colleague many years ago. During the period that our careers overlapped, I enjoyed numerous stimulating conversations with him on linguistic matters, and I cherish the memory of our social interactions as well.

No matter the turmoil in his academic endeavors, Derek enjoyed a rich family life. His remarkable and elegant wife Yvonne was the love of his life, and their synergy as a couple was evident to anyone who saw them together. Derek paid tribute to their long and happy marriage in a poem, the last few lines of which strike me as a fitting epilogue to his life.

Yet do we regret that we stayed
So long at the feast, gobbled up
All that was there for the taking?
Would we have gained by forsaking
The party early, our cup
Undrunk, our parts half-played?

No. There’s so much that we’d have lost:
Learning at last how love grows
When our animals finally sleep
Learning to savor the deep
Joy of mere closeness—God knows
Such things are worth any cost.

Following the announcement of Derek’s passing, a number of friends and colleagues have contacted the Department of Linguistics with their thoughts and remembrances, which we will share at this site.

–William O’Grady

To view remembrances on the memorial site, or to submit one of your own, please click here.

New Faculty: Dr. James N. Collins

The Department of Linguistics looks forward to having Dr. James N. Collins, currently affiliated with Hebrew University of Jerusalem, join our faculty this coming Fall. Not only specializing in syntax, he also helps fulfill our vision of specializing in the languages of the vast Austronesian family (which includes the indigenous languages of Polynesia, Micronesia, Melanesia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Taiwan) and on other languages of Asia and the Pacific with his work in the Philippines and Samoa.

Welcome aboard, Dr. Collins!

Dr. Gary Holton will be Keynote Speaker at LLL Conference

Our very own Dr. Gary Holton, who specializes in language documentation and conservation, will be the Keynote Speaker at this year’s LLL Conference “L4 : Languages, Linguistics & Literature for Life,” to be held on Saturday, April 7th. Dr. Holton’s talk is entitled, “Language Documentation: What Is It and What Is It Good for?”

Also, mahalo to Sydney Ludlow, our current MA student, who is serving as one of the Student Conference Chairs!

Registration is free and open to the public; be sure to sign up before April 2nd to guarantee a free lunch after listening to Dr. Holton’s talk!

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)

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.

Dr. William O’Grady and Ph.D candidate Sejung Yang help in publication of Jejueo language textbook

A sample page from the textbook. Courtesy of Sejung Yang.

Dr. William O’Grady and Ph.D candidate Sejung Yang, along with Dr. Changyong Yang from Jeju National University, have seen the first volume of their Jejueo textbook published on July 5, 2017. The textbook, written for Korean speakers, is the first of its kind for Jejueo, recognized by several international groups (including UNESCO, Endangered Language Group, and Ethnologue) as an independent language rather than a dialect of Korean.

The textbook is the first in a projected four-volume series. You can purchase the textbook from Kyobo (website in Korean).

For more information, including small previews of the book, please read the Center for Korean Studies article.

Albert Schütz publishes paper about first Hawaiian primer

Professor Emeritus Al Schütz recently published a paper on the first Hawaiian primer in the journal Palapala:

Schütz, Albert J. 2017a. Reading between the lines: A closer look at the first Hawaiian
primer (1822). Palapala– He Puke Pai no ka ʻOlelo me ka Moʻolelo Hawaiʻi (A Journal
for Hawaiian Language and Literature)
1:1–29, 173–90.

This is related to the presentation he gave earlier at the Mission Houses Museum.

Albert Schütz presents at Mission Houses Museum

The Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives held its annual meeting on 22 April 2017. The focus for this year’s meeting was the newly restored Print Shop, which, in 1822, produced the first book in Hawaiian (The Alphabet, a 16-page language primer). It was this book that marked the beginning of Hawaiian literacy.

To emphasize the cooperation between the Hawaiians and the American missionary/linguists, Executive Director Tom Woods arranged for talks and papers related to the complementary aspects of the project. John Laimana, historian, spoke on how the Hawaiians embraced, aided, and encouraged the palapala (‘writing; book’). Al Schütz explained how the unusual content and organization of The Alphabet could be traced to Noah Webster’s primers of the period, extremely popular and familiar to nearly every American student. He also reframed the primer in modern linguistic terms, showing how a number of its features could be explained by the authors’ inability to recognize glottal stops and long vowels.


For more information, please find the eNewsletter below:

https://www.missionhouses.org/images/stories/mailewreatharchives/MWSpring_2017_lowres.pdf