Team

ELA is led by a small team of experienced linguists and language activists based in New York City.

Founding Co-Director

Daniel Kaufman received his PhD in linguistics from Cornell in 2010 and co-founded the Endangered Language Alliance (ELA) in the same year with the goal of bringing together linguists with immigrant and Indigenous communities in NYC who speak endangered languages. He has specialized in the languages of the Austronesian family for the last two and a half decades and joined Queens College in 2015 as Assistant Professor. Daniel also co-edits Oceanic Linguistics, a journal devoted to the study of the indigenous languages of the Oceanic region and Island Southeast Asia.

Co-Director 

Ross Perlin is a linguist, writer, and translator focused on exploring and supporting linguistic diversity. He is currently Co-Director of the Endangered Language Alliance, where for the last 7 years he has overseen research projects focused on mapmaking, documentation, policy, and public programming for urban linguistic diversity. Himalayan languages are a focus — for his PhD in Linguistics at the University of Bern, Ross created a trilingual dictionary, a corpus of recordings, and a descriptive grammar of Trung, an endangered language of southwest China, based on three years of fieldwork. He has also written on language, culture, and politics for The New York Times, The Guardian, and Harper’s, and published a book on unpaid work and youth economics (Intern Nation). He teaches linguistics at Columbia

Project Coordinators

Habib Borjian, co-coordinator of ELA’s Iranic languages project, has carried out fieldwork and published on various languages of the Iranian family, especially those in danger of extinction. He collaborates with Endangered Language Alliance to document rare languages spoken by immigrant communities in New York City. He is Senior Assistant Editor of Encyclopaedia Iranica, to which he is a regular contributor, and Associate Editor of Journal Persianate Studies. Borjian is a regional director for the Middle East at Endangered Languages Catalogue, a joint project of the Eastern Michigan University and University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Nawang T. Gurung, coordinator of ELA’s Himalayan languages project, is an independent researcher, translator and tour specialist originally from the Himalayan region of Mustang in Nepal and now based in New York City. In addition to Nawang’s work at ELA, he is also founder and director of the non-profit Yulha Fund and serves on the advisory council of Rubin Museum. He has worked as a translator and assistant for National Geographic and as Development Director for the New York Tibetan Service Center (NYTSC). Among his presentations and publications is the book “Dogyab: Rituel Tibetain de Conjuration du Mal” (in French), a study of Bön religion in Nepal which he co-authored.

Husniya Khujamyorova, co-coordinator of ELA’s Iranic languages project, earned her BA in Linguistics from the State Institute of Languages in Dushanbe, and a Masters of Science in Education, specializing in Early Childhood Development, from CUNY-Brooklyn College. She speaks Wakhi (her native language) as well as Shughni, Tajik, Persian, Kyrgyz, Russian, and English. She has led ELA’s research on Pamiri languages for the last 10 years, including fieldwork in New York, Tajikistan, and China as well as projects involving lullabies and storybooks for children.

Researchers

Shweta Akolkar, a first year graduate student of linguistics at UC Berkeley, who has led the Bishnupriya Manipuri project from 2019 to the present, collecting texts and leading elicitation sessions towards a descriptive grammar of the language.

Jackeline Alvarez, a member of the New York Mixtec diaspora who has worked closely with ELA on several projects relating to Indigenous health and language. Jackeline worked with ELA to conduct long form interviews on language transmission and access with over 30 Indigenous Mexican and Guatemalan families in East Harlem. She is currently completing her BA in Spanish Literature at Hunter College.

Daniel Barry, a PhD candidate in Linguistics at the CUNY Graduate Center, works on historical linguistics, contact linguistics, and phonetics and phonology. He has taught linguistics and Kurdish and contributed significantly to ELA’s research on Wakhi and Zaza.

 

Alex Kwabena Colon, a Garifuna musician and teacher who hails from Punta Gorda, Belize. Alex worked with ELA to transcribe and translate dozens of songs and interviews with the Garifuna community in Belize and New York as part of ELDP sponsored documentation of the endangered arumahani and abeimahani vocal traditions. Alex has also worked as a consultant on ongoing explorations of Garifuna grammar.

James Lovell, a popular Garifuna singer and musician who has been working over the last decade to teach the Garifuna language to children through song and performance. James directed the musical and linguistic arm of the Yugacure program, which brought the Garifuna language back to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the ancestral homeland of the Garifuna people, for the first time since their exile. James continues to perform for adults and children while teaching Garifuna language and history, both in New York, his native Belize and elsewhere in the Garifuna diaspora.

 

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Perry Wong PhD candidate at the University of Chicago.