Christopher Downey

PhD, Computational Linguistics, Inuktitut


I am a first-year PhD student in the Department of Linguistics studying computational linguistics. My main area of research focuses on how computational techniques can be used to help preserve and revitalize endangered and Indigenous languages, and I have previous experience working with Lakota. Many of the algorithms developed for the processing and analysis of texts are centered on English, which has a radically different grammar than many endangered and understudied languages. This opportunity to study Inuktitut will allow me to test these algorithms using a language whose grammar is one of the most dissimilar to English. The FLAS fellowship will also provide a chance to work with and learn from a wider group of Indigenous people, and allow me to understand more of the political and cultural dynamics that underlie language revitalization in North America.