Linguistics MA Alum John Lyon continues to conduct research on Salish languages
John Lyon received his MA from the University of Montana in 2006. His MA thesis “An Edition of Snchitsu'umshtsn Volume II: A Root Dictionary” involved collaboration with the Coeur d’Alene tribe in Idaho. He was awarded a PhD from the University of British Columbia in 2014. His dissertation investigates the syntax and semantics of copular sentences in Nsyilxcn (a.k.a. Okanagan Salish).
John is now a Visiting Professor in Simon Fraser University's Department of Linguistics Indigenous Languages Program, working with Secwepemctsin-speaking elders and language learners in central BC. He is also an Assistant Professor in Linguistics at California State University, Fresno, specializing in semantics, information structure, and the syntax of Interior Salish languages.
From 2014-2016, John was a Postdoctoral fellow through a SSHRC Partnership Grant titled First Nations Languages in the Twenty-First Century: Looking Back, Looking Forward, awarded to Dr. Marianne Ignace at Simon Fraser University. He continues to be involved in documentation and resource development initiatives with the Upper St’át’imc Language, Culture and Education Society (USLCES) in Lillooet, BC. His work includes contributions to a community-based English-St’át’imcets dictionary, and three comprehensive analyzed text collections of St'át'imcets. He has also recently published a volume of Okanagan language narratives from elder Lottie Lindley with the University of Nebraska Press, entitled "Okanagan Grouse Woman: Upper Nicola Okanagan Narratives" as part of the Recovering Languages & Literacies of the Americas (RLLA) series. John continues his collaborative, community-based documentation work in the Okanagan. In 2017-2018 he held a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Victoria (UVic), and taught courses for UVic's Certificate in Aboriginal Language Revitalization (CALR) program in the arctic province of Nunavut.
John's long-term research interests include the documentation of personal narrative, building Indigenous language written literatures, the semantics and syntax of North American indigenous languages, and innovating ways to re-purpose linguistic research into language curricula. He has worked with local BC artists to integrate Indigenous language into exhibitions and to raise awareness of issues surrounding Indigenous language endangerment.