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Local linguist to present dissertation defense on Tlingit verbs

Posted: March 14, 2013 - 12:05am

Tlingit linguist Keri Edwards Eggleston will present her PhD dissertation defense, “575+ Tlingit Verbs: A study of Tlingit verb paradigms,” on Monday, March 18 at 10 a.m. in the Egan Building, room 113.

The public is invited.

In a previous Empire interview, Eggleston said that though Tlingit verbs have been catalogued by other linguists, there has been no good resource for the verbs in their conjugated forms, making it difficult for educators to teach them to classes in the absence of a fluent speaker. In the abstract for her dissertation, Eggleston writes: “The conjugation of Tlingit verbs is unpredictable in certain respects, making the documentation of verb forms from native speakers critical, due to the highly endangered state of the language. The objectives of the research presented here are twofold: 1) to document complete paradigms for 575 verbs, and; 2) to create a reference for second language learners and teachers of Tlingit.”

With help from elders across Southeast Alaska, Eggleston has been working on a database of Tlingit verbs and their conjugations since 2005, a process that has included learning the language herself. She picked up the project from Richard and Nora Marks Dauenhauer, who had began collecting verbs for a database in 1990s. Groups that made the project possible include Goldbelt Heritage Foundation, Sealaska Heritage Institute, the National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities and the Administration for Native Americans.

Eggleston, who grew up in Haines, got involved in the study of the Tlingit language while an undergraduate in linguistics at UAF. She continued her linguistics work at the University of Oregon, graduating with a masters in 2003.

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