Ruth Maddeaux


Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics would like to acknowledge the sacred land on which the University of Toronto operates. For thousands of years it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land.

As 2017 marks 150 years of Canadian federation, the citizens of Canada were invited to share in a number of celebratory events across the country. However, the TWPL editorial team felt compelled to resist the celebration of these lands’ colonial legacy. As a small way of doing so, we planned a volume of research dedicated to the Indigenous languages spoken here – research that is with and for Indigenous languages and speakers. We hoped not only to recognize the greatest linguistic change that has taken place on the land we now call Canada – that is, the intentional and systematic genocide of Indigenous languages by colonial settlers – but importantly, to recognize and celebrate these languages, including their speakers and their champions, in the here and now. The Indigenous languages spoken here are not artifacts of the past, and we wanted to draw attention to the incredible linguistic work taking place in these communities.

The erasure of Indigenous languages is a worldwide issue; as such, we welcomed research on languages spoken outside of what is now Canada and are pleased to include an article on Indigenous languages of Australia, with whom we acknowledge our shared colonial history.

The work in this volume spans language families. It investigates these languages from semantic, syntactic, phonological, and historical perspectives. The data come from a range of fieldwork methodologies, and the analyses make important theoretical contributions to our field. We are very grateful to our contributors for their dedication to this research, and for being willing to share it with us. Yet, we acknowledge that what we have produced is a volume of research mostly by scholars of settler heritage. This is not what we foresaw when we set out to put together this issue, but it is something for which we must accept responsibility. It brought to our attention the shortcomings of our field in engaging Indigenous people as researchers, and our own failures in reaching a diverse audience in general.

For the future of the journal, we would like to present a few actionable items. First, we will include a statement of equity in all of our calls for papers indicating our commitment to publishing the work of scholars from equity-seeking communities. We will also begin developing stronger connections with Indigenous linguists and scholars from Indigenous Studies departments, both at the University of Toronto and elsewhere. Finally, we recommend that all researchers consider the role that their community consultants play in their research profile and the implications for who is considered “experts” on Indigenous languages, and to think about the ways in which we can share our platform.

This process has been humbling. We hope that by dedicating this volume to languages that have been threatened by colonialism, we are taking our own small step in the direction of reconciliation, but clearly, that is not enough. Above all, we are grateful for the opportunity to draw attention to how much more remains to be done. Moving forward, we ask for your help in changing the landscape of linguistic research around the world by making space for the voices of historically silenced communities.



Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics editorial team

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Copyright (c) 2017 Ruth Maddeaux