Since 1984, over 100,000 Karen refugees have fled their homeland of Myanmar to escape civil war. Since then, more than 40,000 have resettled in the U.S., and more than 5,000 live in North Carolina. Such displacement greatly affects lives, and even language — within just three generations their native tongue is barely spoken. Linguistics PhD students Amy Reynolds and Jen Boehm strive to understand this shift and hope to preserve the Karen people’s histories in the process.
Benjamin Frey is an assistant professor in the Department of American Studies and adjunct professor in the Department of Linguistics within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. He studies the Cherokee language, now endangered, in order to recover the social networks, spaces, domains, and means of transference that once allowed it to thrive.
Michael Terry is an associate professor in the Department of Linguistics and adjunct associate professor in the Department of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. He researches the structure of dialects and the implications of dialectal differences for linguistic theory and educational practice.