Lev D. Michael

Assistant Professor

Picture of Lev Michael
Anthropological linguistics, language typology, Amazonian documentary, descriptive, and comparative linguistics, language contact, grammar and interaction, prosodic systems and verbal art, language endangerment and revitalization
Languages: Aʔɨwa, Iquito, Máíhɨ̃ki, Matsigenka, Muniche, Nanti, Omagua, Záparo
Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin, 2008

Contact Information

Office: 1212 Dwinelle Hall
Email: levmichael@berkeley.edu
Office Hours: MW 10-11, and by appointment
Web Site: http://tinyurl.com/nihagantsi

Personal Statement

I am an anthropological linguist with an areal commitment to Amazonia and adjacent regions. My research focuses on the social, political, and cultural life of grammar, and conversely, on using our understanding of grammar to shed light on cultural history. In the former domain, my work focuses on the strategic uses of deictic grammatical categories (e.g. evidentiality) to create particular social effects, on the manipulation of phonological and morphological structure for verbally artistic ends, and on how languages as a whole come to serve as political resources and objects of political conflict. I am also interested in using genetic historical linguistics and contact linguistics as a tool for exploring the cultural history of Amazonia.

Methodologically, my work is grounded in detailed language description, which, tied to my political engagements in indigenous communities, has led to being substantially involved in community-oriented language documentation and revitalization. Due to the typologically remarkable nature of Amazonian languages, my work in language description has also led to an interest in language typology.

If you're interested in what I'm currently working on and thinking about, you can visit my blog: Greater Blogazonia.

Selected publications

Journal Articles

To appear. On the Pre-Columbian origin of Proto-Omagua-Kokama. Journal of Language Contact 7(2).

2013. Michael, Lev, Stephanie Farmer, Gregory Finley, Christine Beier, and Karina Sullón Acosta. A sketch of Muniche segmental and prosodic phonology. International Journal of American Linguistics 79(3):307-347.

2012. Nanti self-quotation: Implications for the pragmatics of reported speech and evidentiality. Pragmatics and Society 3(2): 321-357.

2012. Nuckolls, Janis and Lev Michael. Introduction: Evidentials and evidential strategies in interactional and sociocultural context. Pragmatics and Society 3(2): 181-188.

2011. Beier, Christine, Cynthia Hansen, I-Wen Lai, and Lev Michael. Exploiting word order to express an inflectional category: Reality status in Iquito. Linguistic Typology 15: 65-99. 

2011. The interaction of tone and stress in the prosodic system of Iquito (Zaparoan, Peru). Amerindia 36. 

2006. Beier, Christine and Lev Michael. The Iquito Language Documentation Project: Developing team-based methods for language documentation. Linguistic Discovery 4(1). [webpage]

2005. Crowhurst, Megan and Lev Michael. Iterative footing and prominence-driven stress in Nanti (Kampa). Language 81(1): 47-95. [pdf]

2002. Beier, Christine, Lev Michael, and Joel Sherzer. Discourse forms and processes in indigenous lowland South America: an areal-typological perspective. Annual Review of Anthropology 31: 121 - 145. [pdf]

Book Chapters

To appear. Social dimensions of language change. In Claire Bowern and Bethwyn Evans (Eds.), Handbook of Historical Linguistics. Routledge.

To appear. Negation in Nanti. In Lev Michael and Tania Granadillo (Eds.), Negation in Arawak languages. BRILL.

To appear. A typological and comparative perspective on negation in Arawak languages. In Lev Michael and Tania Granadillo (Eds.), Negation in Arawak languages. BRILL. 

2012. Possession in Nanti. In Alexandra Aikhenvald and R.M.W. Dixon (eds.), Possession and Ownership: A cross-linguistic typology, pp. 149-166. Oxford University Press

2011. Language and Culture. In Peter Austin and Julia Sallabank (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Endangered Languages, pp. 120-140. Cambridge University press.  

2009. Clause linking in Iquito (Zaparoan). In R.M.W. Dixon and Alexandra Aikhenvald (eds.), The Semantics of Clause Linking. Oxford University Press.


2008. Nanti evidential practice: Language, knowledge, and social action in an Amazonian society. PhD dissertation, University of Texas at Austin. [pdf]

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