University of Vermont

Linguist to Discuss 'Vanishing Voices' and Preservation of the Oral Tradition

Linguist, anthropologist and broadcaster Mark Turin will give a free, public talk on "Vanishing Voices: The Case for Collaborative Language Documentation," Thursday, April 10, at 4 p.m. in 427 Waterman Building.

Drawing on more than two decades of fieldwork in the Himalayan region, Turin will discuss the challenges faced by small-scale societies whose oral speech forms — and the knowledge systems that they encode — are increasingly at risk of disappearing without record. In the second part of this illustrated talk, Turin will discuss the World Oral Literature Project, an initiative that he established to help local communities and fieldworkers collaborate in the collection and preservation of all forms of oral tradition.

Turin is a lecturer and associate research scientist in South Asian studies at Yale University and program director of the Yale Himalaya Initiative. From 2009-2012, he was a research associate at the University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. He continues to directs both Digital Himalaya and the World Oral Literature Project, about which he will speak.

He is the author or co-author of four books, the editor of seven volumes, the co-editor of the journal Himalaya and edits a new book series on oral literature with the Cambridge-based Open Book Publishers. He is a regular BBC presenter on issues of linguistic diversity and language endangerment and will be leaving Yale in July 2014 to accept a chair at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Information: Professor Abigail McGowan,