Published: June 20, 2011

The University of Colorado Boulder will host the 2011 Linguistics Institute from July 7 to Aug. 2, a prestigious gathering of faculty and students from around the world that also will feature free films, workshops and lectures open to the public.

The biennial event has never been held in Colorado and is expected to attract about 500 people to CU-Boulder. The previous three institutes were held at the University of California, Berkeley (2009), Stanford (2007) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2005).

In addition to the free and public events, the institute will offer 80 courses taught by distinguished faculty, with enrollment available to the public through CU-Boulder's Continuing Education and Professional Studies.

For one class, Field Methods in Linguistics, a speaker of the Idi language of Papua New Guinea will travel to Boulder. The Idi language is spoken by only about 1,600 people and is barely documented. Students in the class led by Professor Nicholas Evans of Australian National University will work intensively for one month to provide the first extensive documentation of this language.

On July 13 at 7 p.m. in Muenzinger Psychology and Biopsychology room E050 will be a free showing of "We Are Still Here," a film examining language and culture revitalization efforts of the Wampanoag Native Americans in Massachusetts.

And on July 20 at 7 p.m. in Muenzinger Psychology and Biopsychology room E050 there will be a free showing of "Speaking in Tongues," a film following four children through the world of bilingualism and bilingual education in the United States.

"Language is fundamental to virtually everything we do in life, and it is perhaps the single most important thing that separates humans from all other life forms," said Andrew Cowell, associate director of the institute and a CU-Boulder professor of linguistics. "We take it for granted so much of the time until someone makes the smallest misstatement, a machine translation produces something goofy or we pick up on a subtle accent we recognize -- and then political careers can be compromised, corporate initiatives can become the target of worldwide mockery or lifelong friendships can be initiated.

"The institute will focus specifically on ‘Language in the World' and the interdisciplinary connections between linguistics and other fields such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, law, computer science and the media," he said.

The institute is sponsored by the Linguistic Society of America, which is the main professional body for linguists in the United States, with major support from CU-Boulder.

Students enrolled in a Colorado university, college or community college are eligible to register for the institute at about half the usual price, as are Colorado faculty. Information about this offer is posted at

For more information and a complete schedule of events visit