Published: July 22, 2020

iwagnerCU Linguistics PhD student Irina Wagner has received a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant in Dynamic Language Infrastructure. Irina’s dissertation research builds on the extensive descriptive work done at CU Boulder on the Arapaho language. Engaging with the impressive annotated video corpus created by her advisor Andrew Cowell, Irina will examine the role of grammar in the social practice of storytelling and story initiations. Such conversational habits as telling a story, complaining, and reminiscing are at the core of the linguistic repertoires observed in the Arapaho speech community. Moreover, the way the story is initiated and told affects the listeners' participation in the conversation. Ultimately, Irina's research describes the grammar of story initiations in Arapaho and investigates how story tellers build trust and authority in interaction. A goal of the project is to connect story initiations to language teaching methodologies that can aid Arapaho language reclamation. The analysis of conversational narratives will focus on the grammatical nuances, auditory cues, and conversational patterns in speech. In the study, Irina will collaborate with native speakers to include indigenous knowledge where it has been neglected. In observance of COVID-era social-distancing measures, community language experts will work with Irina remotely.