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K. David Harrison

David Harrison

Department Overview

K. David Harrison is a linguist, author and advocate for the documentation and revitalization of endangered languages. He is currently serving as Associate Provost for Academic Programs and Professor of Linguistics at Swarthmore College. Since 2007, Harrison has been affiliated with the National Geographic Society, co-directing their Enduring Voices Project and providing cultural expertise for expeditions, publications and web-content. His early career research focused on Tuvan and other Turkic languages of central Siberia and western Mongolia. More recently, he has been engaged in fieldwork in India, Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, and Vanuatu.

His research explores the sounds, lexicon, grammar, and cultural knowledge found in the world’s languages. In his laboratory at Swarthmore College, Harrison works with students and speakers of minority and endangered languages to create Talking Dictionaries and other digital tools.

Harrison co-starred in Ironbound Films’ Emmy-nominated 2008 documentary film The Linguists, bringing attention to efforts to preserve dying languages. He is a member of the Daylight Academy, and an honorary researcher at New York Botanical Garden’s Center for Economic Botany. His work has been awarded funding from the NEH, NSF, Microsoft Research, National Geographic Society, and private donors. Harrison has authored several books and lectures widely on the value of linguistic and cultural diversity.