University of Pittsburgh
September 9, 2016

Pitt Assistant Professor to Research Linguistic Diversity


Katie Fike


PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh’s Karen Park will investigate the creative processes of naming, metaphor, and myth across linguistically diverse communities as part of a University of Oxford-led research program Creative Multilingualism.Karen Park

Park and Andrew Gosler, with partners from the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History and BirdLife International, have been awarded funding for the project by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Park is an assistant professor in the Department of Linguistics within the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. Gosler is a university research lecturer in ornithology and conservation in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford.

Creative Multilingualism, a four-year interdisciplinary program, will bring together researchers from six universities and 16 external institutions to address the importance of linguistic diversity in an increasingly global society with respect to the dynamic and profoundly creative processes at work within language.

The program is led by Katrin Kohl, professor of German literature in the University of Oxford’s Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, and funded by the AHRC. It is one of four major research programs awarded funding under the AHRC’s competitive Open World Research Initiative, an ambitious, multimillion-pound initiative that explores the critical role languages play in relation to key contemporary issues including social cohesion, migration, security, conservation, health, business, and diplomacy.

“It is tremendously exciting to be involved in such an ambitious and far-reaching endeavor, particularly as it so readily showcases the intrinsic multidisciplinary nature and wide professional applications of modern language studies and linguistics,” said Park.

Park’s project will draw on comparative and historical linguistics, anthropology, and biology to investigate questions of language evolution and change, parallels between linguistic diversity and biodiversity, processes at work in language learning, and broader applications of language knowledge within the areas of education, migration, and conservation.

Creative Multilingualism is designed to forge an interdisciplinary research community that extends far beyond individual research projects and seeks to engage with policymakers across sectors. The program will act as a research hub bringing together colleagues in modern languages, linguistics, English, anthropology, and biology and external partners working in areas of policymaking, community languages, the creative economy, conservation, education, and business.