Laurel Watkins has spent most of her research career studying the Kiowa-Tanoan linguistic family. The goals of working on endangered indigenous languages of the Americas include grammatical descriptions of understudied languages, collections of translated and annotated oral texts, and diachronic comparison of sister languages to elucidate linguistic prehistory. Such documentation contributes both to scholarly research and to community efforts to preserve and revitalize native languages. Her Grammar of Kiowa has provided the foundation for Kiowa language pedagogical materials and for linguistics students at universities world-wide.
Professor Watkins's current research, supported by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, advances the theoretical and applied goals of native language work. She and her British colleagues are investigating the syntactic and discourse properties of Kiowa as a polysynthetic language, the structure of which is radically different from the European languages on which current theory was first developed. They are also translating, with the assistance of Kiowa elders, recently discovered archival texts recorded in the 1970s. The latter restores linguistic materials to the Kiowa tribe in support of their efforts to preserve and learn their heritage language.
- American Indian languages
- Anthropological linguistics
- Language and genderlanguage acquisition
- Historical linguistics
- AN250: Language and Culture
- AN255: Language Acquisition
- AN258: Introduction to Linguistics
- AN260: Language and Gender
- AN360: Historical Linguistics
- AN361: Grammar in Global Perspective
- Ph.D., University of Kansas, 1980
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