George Aaron Broadwell is Elling Eide Professor of Anthropology at University of Florida. His primary research agenda focuses on endangered languages, primarily Native American languages of the United States and Mesoamerica. He is interested in the issues of integrating language description and documentation with contemporary work in linguistic theory.  He is also committed to working with Native American communities to provide dictionaries, texts, and other materials that are useful in language revitalization and maintenance. His long-term descriptive commitments have been to grammatical and lexical descriptions of Choctaw, contemporary Zapotec (San Dionisio Ocotepec, Macuiltianguis, and Sierra Juarez varieties), Colonial Valley Zapot​ec, Copala Triqui, and Timucua. Broadwell is the director of CoLang 2018, taking place at University of Florida in June and July 2018. 

The LSA Member Spotlight highlights the interests and accomplishments of a different LSA member each month. Click here to see previous Member Spotlights.

When did you first join the LSA? 

I joined around 1988, when I was in graduate school at UCLA

How have you been involved with the LSA since you joined? 

I've been a member of the Committee on the Status of Women in Linguistics, the Committee on Endangered Languages and their Preservation, and I've attended most annual meetings for the last thirty years.

What are you currently researching/working on? 

I'm continuing to work on a number of Native American languages (Zapotec, Copala Triqui, Choctaw, Timucua, and Seminole) and I'm the director of CoLang 2018 -- the biennial summer school on language documentation and community collaboration.

How has the field of linguistics changed since you first started your work?

​The biggest change in my work is the rise of user-friendly, low cost (or free) computer software relevant to language documentation.  When I wrote my dissertation and first dictionary, we had only early word processing software.  Software like FLEx, ELAN, and Praat have radically altered the daily work of linguists like me, and have also made it possible to share the results of our work more widely with other scholars and with members of the communities where we work.

What advice would you give to students interested in pursuing a career in linguistics?

I would remind graduate students that Linguistics Departments are not the only places where linguists are employed.  Within academia, it is very valuable to be able to talk to other scholars in fields like Anthropology, English, Speech, Psychology, Philosophy, Computer Science, etc.  Typical graduate training can sometimes produce very narrowly defined specialists, but universities also need those who can think across disciplinary lines.  Perhaps heretically, I would recommend that grad students in linguistics take a course or two outside their home department.

What, in your opinion, is the most important service the LSA provides to its members? To the field? 

I enjoy being exposed to the broad range of work in linguistics, and not just to the parts that I know best. I also very much appreciate the LSA's willingness to take positions on relevant issues of the day -- particularly questions of ethics, sexism, and ethnic diversity. I think all LSA members benefit from the association's commitment to linguistics in a broad sense.