Stephanie Fielding featured in YaleNews

June 18, 2018

YaleNews, the University’s online newsletter, has published an article featuring Lecturer Stephanie Fielding’s work at our Department.

Stephanie came to Yale as a Presidential Visiting Fellow for the 2017–2018 academic year, joining the Department of Linguistics as a Lecturer. During her time at Yale, Stephanie taught four courses on issues relating to Algonquian languages. In the Fall term, The Mohegan Language (LING 118/518) taught students basic conversational skills in Mohegan, a language that Stephanie has spent her career reconstructing and revitalizing. Meanwhile, students interested in endangered languages took Linguistic Diversity and Endangerment (LING 107), a course in which Stephanie shared her experience and expertise in appreciating the diversity of the languages in the world and the actions that are being taken to preserve it. In the Spring term, students taking Topics in Language Comparison: Mohegan and Delaware put their skills to practice, using techniques from historical linguistics to uncover information about Mohegan based on the related Delaware languages.

This innovative application of the comparative method—reconstructing Mohegan, a language with very little surviving documentation, by comparing it with related languages—forms Stephanie’s signature achievement in the study of Algonquian languages. Since she completed her training as the very first graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Indigenous Languages Initiative, Stephanie has developed a dictionary and grammar for Mohegan, as well as course materials available online. To raise awareness of and promote interest in the language, Stephanie has translated traditional ceremonies and written children’s books in Mohegan. Here at Yale, Stephanie’s courses attracted undergraduate and graduate students from all parts of the University, and outside of class, Stephanie spoke about her experiences with students at Hopper College Tea.

As the 2017–2018 academic year has come to an end, Stephanie is no longer at Yale. However, her influence here persists, as Yale linguists remain committed to language documentation and reconstruction, with a particular interest in Algonquian languages and other indigenous languages worldwide. We hope to see Stephanie again soon!

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