The New Amsterdam History Center presents “Were 18 languages spoken in New Amsterdam?”
October 11 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Our colleagues at the New Amsterdam History Center present this virtual program by Ross Perlin, co-director of the Endangered Language Alliance.
It is often said that 18 languages were spoken in New Amsterdam. In researching his forthcoming linguistic history of New York, linguist Ross Perlin has discovered that there may have been many more than 18! He suggests a higher count that includes formerly overlooked languages spoken by the Indigenous population and the free and enslaved people brought here from Asia and Africa. He explores how the new port, New Amsterdam, was Native American, African, and European from the beginning, with the template for the city’s extraordinary multilingualism thus set at the very start of Dutch rule.
Ross Perlin (PhD University of Bern) is Co-Director of the Endangered Language Alliance, managing research projects on mapmaking, documentation, policy, and public programming for urban linguistic diversity. He is a linguist, writer, and translator focused on exploring and supporting linguistic diversity. He has also written on language, culture, and politics for The New York Times, The Guardian, Harper’s, and elsewhere. He teaches linguistics at Columbia. In 2021-22 he was a Robert D.L. Gardiner Foundation writing fellow at CUNY’s Gotham Center.