My primary interests are descriptive and documentary fieldwork, historical/functional/typological syntax, and historical/functional phonology.
I have been working in South America with languages of the Cariban family since 1988, when I began fieldwork on Panare in Venezuela. In all, I have worked with speakers of 15 Cariban languages, collecting comparative wordlists and morphosyntactic information for all 15, working (off and on) towards descriptive grammars of three (Katxuyana, Akawaio, and †Tamanaku), and serving as dissertation advisor for four students working with Cariban speech communities: Meira’s 1999 reference grammar of Tiriyó, Fox’s 2003 sociolinguistic/anthropological study of Akawaio, Tavares’ 2005 reference grammar of Wayana, and Yamada’s 2010 thesis on collaborative language documentation and revitalization in the Aretyry Kari’nja (a.k.a. Carib of Suriname). I have also served as an outside member on the dissertation committee for Souza Cruz’s 2005 reference grammar of Ingarikó (Free University of Amsterdam) and Cáceres’ 2011 grammatical description of Ye’kwana (Université Lumière, Lyon 2).
Outside the Cariban family, I have worked briefly on Rama (Chibchan), Kiché (Mayan), Lhasa Tibetan and Kurtoep (Tibeto-Burman). I have served as dissertation advisor for Guirardello's 1999 reference grammar of Trumai (isolate), Fleck’s 2003 reference grammar of Matses (Panoan), Oliveira’s 2005 grammar of Apinajé (Jê), Vallejos’ 2010 reference grammar of Kokama-Kokamilla (Tupían creole), and Valdez’ 2013 description of topics in the grammar of Urique Tarahumara (Uto-Aztecan). I am currently working with Jaeci Hall on description and revitalization of Nuwee Ya', with Shalene Eaglespeaker on description and revitalization of Kiksht, and with Allison Taylor-Adams on a typology of revitalization situations.
My historical and comparative work is primarily in the Cariban family (in collaboration with Sérgio Meira, Natalia Cáceres and Racquel Sapién), and (in collaboration with Flávia Castro Alves) northern Jê, with brief forays into the Tupí-Guaraní family. I have also collaborated with Raquel Guirardello on the internal reconstruction of main clause grammatical patterns in Trumai (Isolate, Brazil) and with Katharina Haude on the internal reconstruction of main clause grammatical patterns in Movima (isolate, Bolivia).
My current obsessions are the methodology of reconstructing grammar, serving as Series Co-Editor (with Fernando Zúñiga) for Typological Studies in Language. I continue to be fascinated by the diachronic typology of main clause alignment patterns, especially ergativity and hierarchical alignment — i.e., the origins and evolutionary pathways by which ergative and hierarchical main clause grammar is created.
International Conferences / Workshops Organized
1995. Workshop in Grammatical Description, Rice University, Houston, Texas. June 5-20. (for Brazilian field linguistics PhD students, Sponsored by the National Science Foundation)
2004. Exploring the Linguistic Past: Historical Linguistics in South America. (sponsored by Netherlands Foundation for Scientific Research [NWO]), University of Oregon. September 5-9.
2005. Working Conference on the Grammar of Cariban Languages. Co-organized with Odile Lescure (CELIA - CNRS). Villejuif, France. 5-9 December. (sponsored by CNRS)
2009. 2nd Hanyang-Oregon Linguistics Symposium. University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon. August 12-13.
2011. Jóhanna Barðdal and Spike Gildea. Workshop Diachronic Syntax, held at the International Congress on Historical Linguistics. Osaka, Japan. July 25-29.
2011. Jóhanna Barðdal and Spike Gildea. Workshop Diachronic Construction Grammar, held at the Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea. Logroño, Spain. Sept 8-11.
International Intensive Courses & Workshops Taught
1993 (April-June): Introdução à linguística (gramática). Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Belém, Brazil. A 3-month accelerated introductory course co-taught with Dr. Francisco Queixalos (CNRS/ORSTOM).
1993 (December 7-16): A perspectiva funcionalista das relações sintáticas, semânticas e pragmáticas. Museu Nacional/Universidade Federal de Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 18-hour intensive course, taught for the Curso de Especialização em Línguas Indígenas Brasileiras, Departamento de Antropologia.
1994 (October 2-11): Introdução à sintaxe diacrônica. Universidade do Brasil, Brasília, Brazil. A 16-hour graduate-level intensive course taught for the Departamento de Lingüística, Línguas Clásicas, e Vernacular.
1996 (July 2-14): Inverse as alignment, inverse as voice. Australian Linguistic Institute, Canberra, Australia. A 16-hour intensive course on the typology and theory of inverse, offered as one of the 24 courses of the 1996 Australian Linguistic Institute, sponsored by the Australian Linguistics Society.
2003. Workshop: Programas computacionais de análise lingüística: Transcriber, Praat, e Shoebox. 4-hour hands-on demonstration for the Universidade Estadual de Campinas, 23 November.
2003 (November 24-28): Lingüística Histórica: O método comparativo, a reconstrução, e clasificação. Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, Brazil. A 20-hour intensive course introducing key concepts of historical linguistics, including use of the comparative method for the reconstruction of morphosyntax.
2004 (October 11-14): Estratégias de Elaboração e Apresentação de Resultados de Pesquisa Científica. Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, Brazil. A 20-hour intensive course on the philosophy of science as applied to descriptive linguistics, the interaction between theoretical and operational definitions of descriptive categories, the and strategies for organization of articles, conference abstracts, and conference presentations.
2004 (October 18-23): O Uso de Programas Computacionais em Linguística. Universidade Federal do Pará, Belém, Brazil. A 16-hour intensive course introducing graduate students to the overall concept of using computers to track data from recording through final analysis. Programs utilized: Audacity (sound recording and digitizing), Transcriber (creating text files linked to sound files line by line), ECONV (converting linked text files to Shoebox/Toolbox format), and Toolbox (creating interlinear analysis and other annotations on text files).
2006 (April 27-28): Documenting Our Languages (With Desrey Fox, Curator, Walter Roth Museum). Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology, Georgetown, Guyana. A 12-hour intensive workshop in the issues of language endangerment, language documentation as a tool for addressing language endangerment, and using the technical tools of language documentation: audio and video recording, digitization of audio and video, and processing of digitized audio and video to create useful documentary products.
2006 (May 29-June 2): The issues of linking "language functions" to cognition (with Eric Pederson, UO). Universidade Federal do Pará, Belém, Brazil. A 20-hour intensive course addressing the study of language and cognition. Presented 8 hours on text counts and the “Fish Film” experiment as empirical means of testing for clause-level “topic”; then translated to Portuguese for Professor Pederson on language and spatial cognition, event realization, and logical connectives.
2007 (December 10-13): Sintaxe Histórica (with Flávia Castro Alves, Universidade de Brasília). Universidade de Brasília, Brasília, Brazil. A 12-hour intensive course, in which I taught the first 8 hours andCastro Alves the final four hours. I introduced the priciples of historical syntax and walked students through a series of examples in reconstruction of syntax in the Cariban language family; Castro Alves introduced the history of the European “possessive perfect”, then showed how a parallel perfect has evolved in the Jê language family.
2008 (June 24-27): Grant Writing for Language Activists or Linguists (with Margaret Florey, Susan Penfield, and Knud Olawsky). Institute on Field Linguistics and Language Documentation, University of California, Santa Barbara. A 10-hour workshop on how to identify sources of funding and how to write successful proposals to secure funding from these sources.
2008 (June 24-30): Life in the Field (with Lise Dobrin and Knud Olawsky). Institute on Field Linguistics and Language Documentation, University of California, Santa Barbara. 5 2-hour workshops on practical issues of living in a variety of field situations.
2008 (June 30-July 2): Field Phonetics (with Matthew Gordon). Institute on Field Linguistics and Language Documentation, University of California, Santa Barbara. A 6-hour course on utlizing acoustic analysis software effectively in field situations.
2009. (April 6-7): Tipologia diacrônica: Para uma explicação de padrões comuns. II Congresso Internacional de Estudos Lingüísticos e Literários na Amazônia, Universidade Federal do Pará. A 4-hour course on explaining both common and uncommon typological patterns with reference to their etymology. Common patterns are the result of functionally motivated (and therefore frequent) changes, whereas uncommon patterns are the result of historical “accidents” that preserve archaisms.
2010. (June 22-July 2): Introduction to the Linguistics of Kari’nja (with Racquel Yamada). Institute for Field Linguistics and Language Documentation, University of Oregon. A 16-hour course for speakers and teachers of Kari’nja, on learning to recognize linguistic patterns in their language.
2011. (April 18-20): The Typology of Referential Hierarchies. II Congresso Internacional de Estudos Lingüísticos e Literários na Amazônia, Universidade Federal do Pará. An 8-hour course illustrating the areas of grammar where the referential hierarchy is seen (case-marking, verb agreement, direction systems, and voice) and tracing the evolution of hierarchical alignment.
2011. (November 14-18): Reconstructing Syntax. Universidad de Sonora, Hermosillo, Mexico. A 15-hour course, in Spanish, on mechanisms and pathways of syntactic change, which then inform the principles that allow reliable syntactic reconstruction.
2012 (April 19-21): Reconstructing Syntax. Universidad de San Marcos, Lima, Peru. A 9-hour course, in Spanish, on mechanisms and pathways of syntactic change, with principles that allow reliable syntactic reconstruction.
2012 (June 19-22): Grant Writing (with Doug Whalen). Co-Lang 2012: Institute on Collaborative Language Research (formerly InField), University of Kansas. A 6-hour workshop on how to identify sources of funding for language documentation and revitalization projects, and how to write successful proposals to secure funding from these sources.
2012. (June 19-22): Life in Communities (with Racquel Yamada). Co-Lang 2012: Institute on Collaborative Language Research (formerly InField), University of Kansas. A 6-hour workshop on practical issues of living and working in a variety of minority language communities.
2013 (March 4-22): Métodos para la reconstrucción de sintaxis. Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social Sureste (CIESAS Sureste), San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico. A 20-hour course introducing the principles and methods of reconstruction of syntax, followed by a 20-hour workshop designed to guide students through the process of proposing analyses of grammatical change in the languages (or language families) in which they specialize.