Gary Holton

Professor of Linguistics
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

Due to the current university COVID-19 response I will be holding virtual office hours using Zoom video conferencing until further notice. Please schedule an appointment using my calendar.

As a documentary linguist my work focuses on the documentation, description and maintenance of Indigenous languages and knowledge systems, including especially the non-Austronesian (Papuan) languages of eastern Indonesia and the Dene (Athabascan) languages of Alaska. Most of these languages are in danger of disappearing, and their systematic documentation preserves endangered knowledge systems while also contributing to an understanding of the way human languages are structured.

Much of my work is interdisciplinary in nature, addressing the way knowledge systems are encoded in (and influenced by) language. This includes especially the linguistic encoding of spatial relations but also other types of knowledge systems such as astronomy, botany, and mathematics. Coursework in this area includes Language, Landscape, and Space (LING 640G) and a Seminar in Biocultural Diversity (IS 750), co-taught with colleagues in the Biocultural Initiative of the Pacific. See the research section for a description of ongoing projects.

For the past two decades I have also been actively involved in the development of Infrastructure and best practices for the field of documentary linguistics, through efforts including the Open Language Archives Community and the Digital Endangered Languages and Musics Archiving Network. Current projects in this area include the NSF-funded project, Developing Tools for Metadata Editing and Collection Management and the IMLS-funded Kaipumakani Project.