Smithsonian Journeys Experts
Lindsay Whaley received a PhD in Linguistics in the State University of New York, Buffalo. He is an expert on the Tungusic languages of northern China and is known internationally for his work in language typology, which involves determining why some properties of language are common while others are rare. He is widely recognized as one of the foremost experts in the world on language death and language revitalization. One of his current projects examines patterns of language and culture change in the Arctic and the Pacific Islands, where climate change has had significant impact on small subsistence-based communities. This work has included fieldwork in several Arctic communities, as well as Easter Island and Tonga. On this cruise, Lindsay will talk about how the languages of the Pacific give us a good picture of how the Pacific Islands were populated by humans and some of the unique cultural challenges that currently are being confronted by Polynesian peoples.