Professor of Linguistics
An authority on the Navajo language, Professor Fernald describes himself as a "semanticist with interests in the distinction between individual- and stage-level predicates, negative polarity items, generic sentences, definite and indefinite descriptions, and all things having to do with Navajo syntax and semantics."
His current research includes a project for which he and colleague, Ellavina Tsosie Perkins, have received support from the National Science Foundation. They are conducting linguistic research on Navajo to create a reference grammar drawing on previous studies of Navajo sentence structure. The proposed reference grammar will cover the structure, meaning, and use of all known Navajo sentence types.
Fernald is vice chair of the board of directors of the Navajo Language Academy, Inc., (NLA) a non-profit educational organization devoted to the scientific study and promotion of the Navajo language. The NLA has hosted Navajo linguistics workshops every summer since 1997. He also directs the Navajo Linguistics Archive Project of the NLA which is housed in Swarthmore's McCabe Library.
Professor Fernald received his B.A. and M.A. from Ohio State University and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz.