Martina Volfova

Research Key Words:

Linguistic Anthropology, Indigenous Languages, Language Revitalization, Maintenance, and Documentation, Embodied Discourse Practices, Semiotics, Performance and Performativity, Narrative Practices, Verbal Art, Anthropology of Education, Visual Anthropology, Youth Engagement and Activism

PhD Research:

My primary research interests include issues surrounding language endangerment, revitalization, maintenance, and most recently language documentation. I am interested in using film to carry out community based, collaborative research, focusing for example on documentation of embodied linguistic practices of everyday interactions and activities in order to develop not only multimodal language documentation materials, but also innovative, culturally appropriate, and visually engaging language learning resources. I am also interested in exploring film as a participatory research tool for engaging communities, especially youth. My goal is to do research that is not only theoretically grounded and rigorous, but also engaging and benefiting the communities whose languages it concerns. As former language teacher, I also want to support language workers and language learners. My background in linguistics, language teaching and curriculum development has facilitated my involvement in the Shoshone/Goshute Youth Language Apprentice Program at the University of Utah, where I worked as a program coordinator and curriculum developer, and where I also conducted her MA research. In this research, I explored youth experiences of language loss, their active involvement in language revitalization work, and their desire to keep their ancestral language alive. Since coming to UBC, I have been involved with the Kaska Talking Dictionary project, working under the supervision of Dr. Patrick Moore, both on the UBC campus as well as in Kaska communities in the Yukon. I have also been working with Dr. Mark Turin at UBC’s First Nations Endangered Languages Program on developing new courses, covering a variety of topics concerning indigenous languages.

B.A. Linguistics and Spanish, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, 2001

B.A. Honours: 

“Survey of Language and Cultural Maintenance of American Czech in Rural Minnesota”

This ethnographic project investigated the status of American Czech language in the rural community of New Prague, Minnesota, USA.

M.A. Linguistic Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, USA, 2013

M.A. Research:

“And Now We Are All Newenee”: A Journey of Becoming and Keeping the Shoshone Language and Culture Alive

This thesis is an ethnographic account of language revitalization efforts, examining how Shoshone and Goshute youth involved in the University of Utah’s Shoshone/Goshute Youth Language Apprentice Program (SYLAP) experience language loss, negotiate their communities’ complex linguistic landscapes, and actively and innovatively contribute to the overall Shoshone language revitalization efforts. These efforts create new and exciting domains of language use and more importantly, bridge intergenerational ideological gaps, effectively opening a dialog about exploring a variety of non-traditional resources to promote Shoshone language use.

M.A. Supervisor: James Wilce, PhD

Supervisors: Dr. Patrick Moore.
Dr. Patricia Shaw 


 American Anthropological Association (AAA)

Society for Linguistic Anthropology (SLA)


2012   Volfova, M. & Douglass, M. Is it Ever Just a Joke?”  In  Anthropology of Humor and Laughter. Ewa Wasilewska,ed. Pp. 173-199. San Diego: Cognella.


Conference Presentations:

2015   Living Song: Meditation on Moravian Folk Song Traditions
Co-Presenter with Julia Ulehla (UBC School of Music), 2015 Endnotes: UBC English Graduate Conference – Dis/Quieting Desires, Vancouver, BC (May 15-16, 2015)

2014  Unsettled Stories: Language Revitalization in Places that Insist on Speaking. American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Washington DC (December 3 – 7, 2014)

2014 “I Wanna Help Keeping Our Language”: Shoshone Youth and Language Revitalization. Annual Conference on Language, Interaction, and Culture (CLIC), University of California, Los Angeles (May 1 – 3, 2014)

2014 Research Agendas and Community Interests: Confronting Language Ideologies in Language Revitalization Work. UBC Facilitated Interdisciplinary Research Exchange (FIRE) Talks, Vancouver, British Columbia (March 26, 2014)

2014 Community Collaboration: Shoshone/Goshute Youth Language Apprentice Program. UBC Department of Anthropology Research Open House, Vancouver, British Columbia (March 21, 2014)

2015 “And Now We Are All Newenee”: A Journey of Becoming and Keeping the Shoshone Language and Culture Alive. UBC Department of Anthropology, Anthropology Graduate Student Association (AGSA) Talks, Vancouver, British Columbia (February 5, 2014)

2013  “Indigenizing the Toolbox”: Manipulating Language Ideologies in Shoshone Classroom Teaching. Paper presented at Conference on Endangered Languages and Cultures of Native America (CELCNA), University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah (March 8 – 9, 2013)

2012 “It’s Not Like Playing Indian for a Day, This is Real”: Exploring Indigenous Language Ideologies and Issues of Authenticity. Paper presented at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, California (November 14 – 18, 2012)

2012 Teaching Beginning Level Learners of American Indian Languages. Workshop for teachers conducted at Conference on Endangered Languages and Cultures of Native America (CELCNA), University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah (March 22 – 23, 2012)