LINGUIST List 30.1815

Mon Apr 29 2019

Featured Linguist: Dr. Shobhana Chelliah

Editor for this issue: Sarah Robinson <>

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Date: 29-Apr-2019
From: LINGUIST List <>
Subject: Featured Linguist: Dr. Shobhana Chelliah
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Dear LINGUIST List readers and subscribers,

Please enjoy this awesome message from this week's featured linguist, Dr.
Shobhana Chelliah!


I am delighted to support the Linguistlist (LL) in their 2019 fund drive.
Like many of you, I rely on LL. I’ve posted conference information, gotten
input on typological questions, listed jobs, gathered data to argue for new
faculty, and to help our students identify nonacademic jobs in linguistics.
It’s hard to imagine working without this resource. Please support LL with
your donations. I have and I will continue to.

So now a little bit about myself. I was born in Palayamkottai, a town near
the city of Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu, India. When I was seven, my father
taught me, my mom, and sister how to eat with knife and fork, packed our
belongings and moved us to Washington D.C. He worked at the International
Monetary Fund for seven years. In 1975, he decided once again to pack kit and
caboodle and move us back to India. Since my Hindi and Sanskrit skills were
close to zero, high school for me was at the international boarding school,
Woodstock International School. The D.C. experience explains my American
accent and the Woodstock experience why I have friends from all over the

Now on to my introduction to linguistics: After getting a BA in English
literature from St Stephen’s college in Delhi, I signed up for an MA in
linguistics, in Delhi University where our Field Methods language was Manipuri
(Meiteiron). Thank you M.A. advisor K.V. Subbarao and thank you fellow
student and language consultant Promodini Nameirakpam Devi! And thank you UT
Austin Ph.D. advisor Anthony Woodbury and collaborator/spouse Willem de Reuse!
All four of these great people and many more supported the writing of my
first book, A Grammar of Meitei (Mouton 1997). This laid the foundation for my
current work on Lamkang Naga, a South Central Tibeto-Burman (Kuki-Chin)
language of Manipur. NSF Documenting Endangered Languages grants and the UNT
digital library have supported the creation of: A whole host
of questions about metadata, data formats, data organization, and archive
usability have crystalized through this experience and my information science,
anthropology colleagues, and I are happily tackling those now.

Between 2013-2015, I had the good fortune to serve as the Program Officer for
the Documenting Endangered Languages Program at the US National Science
Foundation. Thank you Joan Maling, Terry Langendoen, and my Program Officer
cohort – What brilliance! What brains! In 2015, with NSF inspiration in my
back pocket, I moved back to the University of North Texas, the institution
that has mentored, sheltered, and nurtured me since 1996. Here I’ve been
involved in creating two types of resources for South Asian Languages: (1) an
Interlinear Gloss Translation repository we are calling the Computational
Resource for South Asian Languages (CoRSAL) and (2) controlled vocabularies
for tagging linguistic data from Tibeto-Burman languages. My partners in
these ventures are fellow College of Information knowledge seekers,
Computational Linguist Alexis Palmer and Information Scientist Oksana

One really cool happening: UNT is proudly graduating a member of the Lamkang
community with an MA in Linguistics and helping her step into her new world as
a PhD student in Philosophy with a focus in environmental philosophy.
Congratulations, Sumshot Khular! We continue to support students from
indigenous populations in India and Pakistan. We have visiting scholars here
from Manipur and Pakistan and have admitted a students from Assam, Kashmir,
and Pakistan. I am so excited that we can support these students who are
committed to their communities and Language Documentation.

So now I am going on the LL website to contribute. Follow me there!

Page Updated: 29-Apr-2019