School hosts unique conference on Mayan linguistics

On April 23-25, the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy hosted an international workshop on Formal Approaches to Mayan Linguistics. This National Science Foundation-funded conference, the first of its kind, brought together specialists to discuss the unique properties of Mayan languages. A particularly exciting (and unprecedented) feature of this workshop is the fact that more than half of the presentations were made by linguists who are also native speakers of Mayan languages. The involvement of native speakers in the documentation, analysis and revitalization of their own languages is increasingly important as a large number of the world’s languages (including many in the Mayan family) face extinction.

The organizers of the conference were Jessica Coon, an MIT graduate student in linguistics who works on Chol, a Mayan language of Chiapas, Mexico, and Robert Henderson, a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz who specializes in the Mayan languages of Guatemala.

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