CALangDoc is dedicated to the documentation, description, and revitalization of the Indigenous languages of California. It is the homepage of Lewis C. Lawyer.
A Grammar of Patwin
My book, A Grammar of Patwin, is the first published grammatical description of the Patwin language, an Indigenous language of California.
It brings together two hundred years of word lists, notebooks, audio recordings, and manuscripts from archives across the United States, synthesizing this scattered collection into a clear description of the language’s grammatical structure. I address the full range of grammatical structure with chapters on phonetics, phonology, nominals, nominal modifiers, spatial terms, verbs, and clauses. An introductory chapter situates the language geographically and historically and also gives a detailed account of previous work on the language and of the archival materials on which the study is based.
I am a linguist specializing in the Indigenous languages of California, language technologies, and descriptive linguistics. I completed my Ph.D. in Linguistics at UC Davis in 2015, writing a descriptive grammar of the Patwin language (Wintun Tʼewe) for my dissertation. I also have an M.Phil. in English and Applied Linguistics from the University of Cambridge, and B.A.’s in Linguistics and Music from the University of Southern California.
I work as a research linguist and in the field of language revitalization. As a linguist, I primarily study the Patwin language. I am also interested in other Indigenous languages of California and beyond, and how they may be historically related to one another. I have particular expertise in the fields of descriptive linguistics, lexicography, historical linguistics, phonetics, and linguistic typology.
In the field of language revitalization, I work primarily with Patwin. Currently I am working on a Hill Patwin dictionary for the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, and translating some Wintun Tʼewe (River Patwin) texts from 1903 and 1910. I have also helped to design a language program for the Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians, consulted for the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, and I have been a regular attendee of the Breath Of Life language revitalization conferences in Berkeley and Washington D.C., where I have worked with Patwin, Kojongkʼawi (Konkow Maidu), Sierra Miwok, Nomlaki, and Kawaiisu teams. You can listen to my thoughts on language documentation and sovereignty in the seventh episode of the UC Davis podcast the Backdrop with Soterios Johnson. I also maintain a searchable database of Patwin archival materials on this website. That database is currently password protected, and available only to Patwin community members. Please email me if you think you should have access!
I have also been working with language technologies at the Cambridge University Press, where I am in charge of dictionary and corpus databases. Among many other projects, we managed to publish a new thesaurus in the chaos of 2020, and I think that’s pretty cool.
In my “spare time” I successfully petitioned the ISO (via SIL) to recognize Nomlaki and Patwin as languages distinct from Wintu (a recognition that was long overdue). With the help of Ken Whistler, Deborah Anderson, and Luanne von Schneidemesser, I also successfully petitioned the Unicode Technical Committee to introduce the small-capital omega into Unicode: AB65 "ꭥ", published 2014. I like to make noise with trombones, guitars and keyboards, and I never met a cheese I didn’t like.
My current CV can be found here.