Research Cafe


 Howard Treadwell-Smith

Howard Treadwell-Smith

PhD student in the Department of Linguistics

'The Unkechaug Language Attitudinal Study: A Sociolinguistic Look at an Endangered Language Community'

Synopsis: The Unkechaug language has not been spoken fluently in over 200 years, because of this there have been significant efforts made by its community members to find a way to rectify this issue. Decimation of language and gradual cultural loss has provided the Unkechaug with a dire impetus to create strategies to stem the flow of a generational cultural wound. This talk will focus on the efforts that Unkechaug community members have taken in order to revitalize its linguistic heritage. We will also discuss the undertaking of an exploratory qualitative study taking measure of members of the Unkechaug Nation’s language attitude towards 1) the revitalization of its heritage language and its cultural significance, and 2) the potential of adoption of a more documented genetically related language (i.e. Western Abenaki, Mohegan, and Wampanoag ) and its implications.

Biography: Howard Treadwell-Smith is a writer, visual artist, performer and socio-linguist. An alum of the Linguistic departments of SUNY Stony Brook , University of Arizona, he possesses an understanding of the power language has in shaping our world-view. Currently, Howard is a PhD student and Turner Fellow at Stony Brook. He works diligently with his community in working to reclaim its heritage language and culture. It is his belief that our experience combined with voice (textual, vocal, physical, visual) can create lasting impressions and affect change with the language we create through its expression.

Monday, November 28, 2016 at 12:30 PM



*Photo credit: Charles Valencia


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