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[Virtual] Scholars@Hallwalls: Karin Michelson, “Weaving a grammar of the Onʌyoteʔa·ká· (Oneida) language”

March 26 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Join us for a virtual edition of our Faculty Fellows talks! This lecture series brings current UB humanities research out into the community.

Karin will present her talk live on Zoom with a Q+A session following.

In this talk, Karin Michelson confronts an issue faced by anyone contemplating writing a comprehensive reference grammar of a language, especially of a language with a different “genius” from better known languages. Traditionally, grammars of languages spoken by the Haudenosaunee are exhaustive catalogues of grammatical structures, akin to describing beads in a necklace. Michelson’s approach to an Oneida grammar describes it as a richly textured woven fabric, with formal elements used for diverse functions. This conception or “theory” is exemplified by the way kin relations, nationalities, personal names, tools, diseases, and other artifacts are talked about.

About Karin Michelson, Professor, UB Department of Linguistics

Karin’s research focuses on the languages spoken by the Haudenosaunee, especially Oneida and Mohawk. For the last forty years she has been describing and documenting them, recording what speakers think is important and relevant (and sometimes funny and playful), and delving into the more unusual grammatical patterns present in these languages. She has published a dictionary (Oneida-English, English-Oneida Dictionary 2002) and a volume of texts (Glimpses into Oneida Life 2016), in addition to articles dealing with theoretical issues in linguistics. Currently she is finishing up a dictionary of Mohawk, with annotations referencing historical works.

While we cannot provide complimentary wine and light fare in this time of virtual gatherings, we can provide a recommendation for each talk!

paradise wine logoNoting the importance of place to the Haudenosaunee, for this talk Karin asked Paula Paradise of Paradise Wine for a recommendation. With that in mind, Paula’s pick is a 2016 Ravines Riesling Argetsinger Vineyard that can be purchased online from Paradise Wine (435 Rhode Island Street) for delivery or curbside pick-up.



March 26
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Event Category:


Humanities Institute