Mapping Asian Languages in Queens by Prof. Ross Perlin (5/4/2023)

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In collaboration with the AAPI Heritage Month (, the Japan Studies Program is hosting a talk by Ross Perlin, Co-director of the Endangered Language Alliance, on Thursday, May 4, 2023. Prof. Perlin’s talk is titled “Mapping Asian Languages in Queens,” which discusses linguistic diversity in Queens, especially in the neighborhood of LaGuardia Community College.

  • Title: Mapping Asian Languages in Queens
  • Date: Thursday, May 4, 2023
  • Time: 12:00pm – 1:30pm
  • Place: Room E-111 (in-person) or online
  • URL: (for online participation)

Description of the talk: For over a decade, the Endangered Language Alliance (ELA), an NYC nonprofit with a mission to document and support linguistic diversity, has been working with speakers and communities to map the lesser-known, minority, endangered, and Indigenous languages of the New York area. One key product of this effort is the Languages of New York map, which shows over 700 language varieties at over 1200 significant sites across the metropolitan area. Most numerous of all are Asian languages, centered in Queens and constituting around 40 percent of the total. More important than variable numbers, however, is that the map shows a city of much deeper and more intricately patterned linguistic diversity than known from any previous research. (The U.S. census, limited when it comes to language, typically records just over 100 languages for the NYC area.) ELA Co-Director Ross Perlin will discuss the map and zoom in on the lesser- known Asian language diversity of Queens, particularly in LaGuardia’s immediate surroundings, including some of the most diverse neighborhoods in the world.

Speaker: Dr. Ross Perlin is a linguist, writer, and translator from New York City. He is currently working on a book about New York and its languages as a 2023 New Arizona Fellow at New America. As a linguist, he serves as co-director of the non-profit Endangered Language Alliance, where since 2013 he has overseen research projects focused on language documentation, mapping, policy, and public programming. Himalayan languages are a focus – for his PhD, he created a trilingual dictionary, a corpus of recordings, and a descriptive grammar of Trung, an endangered language of southwest China, based on several years of fieldwork. He also teaches linguistics at Columbia. His articles appear in The New York Times, The Guardian, and Harper’s, among other places, and he also published a book on unpaid work and youth economics (Intern Nation). He gave talks at the Googleplex, the UK Parliament, and the Economic Policy Institute, as well as universities and colleges across America. TV and radio appearances have been on MSNBC, CBS, Fox, BBC, and NPR, among others. As a translator, he works primarily from Chinese into English. he translated Liao Yiwu’s Bullets and Opium (2019) and Chen Guangcheng’s The Barefoot Lawyer (2015). He has recorded two Yiddish-language video series for The Forward and translated essays, stories, and poems as a National Yiddish Book Center Translation Fellow. Dr. Perlin received a BA from Stanford, an M.Phil. from Cambridge, and an MA from the University of London (SOAS), and a Ph.D. in Linguistics is from the University of Bern in Switzerland.

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