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Department of American Studies College of Arts and Sciences

Philip S. LeSourd « Committee on NAIS

Picture of Philip S. LeSourd

Associate Professor of Anthropology and Second Language Studies
Adjunct Professor of Linguistics
Associate Faculty, American Indian Studies Research Institute (AISRI)

Office: Student Building 336
Phone: 855-4649
E-mail: plesourd at


My research focuses on the languages and cultures of the Algonquian peoples, who originally occupied much of the northeast quadrant of North America. My special interest within this domain is the Maliseet and the Passamaquoddy, two groups speaking dialects of a single Eastern Algonquian language in New Brunswick (Maliseet) and Maine (Passamaquoddy).

I began working with Maliseet and Passamaquoddy speakers in the 1970s when I was hired by the Wabnaki Bilingual Education Program at Indian Township, Maine, to organize a dictionary project. The small dictionary that grew out of this project was published in 1984 by the Mi’kmaq-Maliseet Institute of the University of New Brunswick. The work was then carried on by a community-based project at Pleasant Point, Maine, leading to the establishment of an on-line dictionary and ultimately to the publication of a dictionary with some 18,000 entries (David A. Francis and Robert M. Leavitt. Peskotomuhkati Wolastoqewi Latuwewakon / A Passamaquoddy-Maliseet Dictionary. Orono, Me.: University of Maine Press, 2008).

My research in the 1980s focused on the phonology of Passamaquoddy. This was the subject of my dissertation, which presents an analysis of the stress system of the language, together with its intricate system of vocalic syncope. More recently I have been involved in editing Maliseet and Passamaquoddy texts, including a corpus of material that was recorded in New Brunswick in 1963 by the late Karl V. Teeter of Harvard University. The majority of speakers with whom Teeter worked were born before 1900. Thus their narratives, which provide a significant sample of the oral literature of the Maliseet people, reflect an older style of speech, one that employs to the fullest the morphological resources of their polysynthetic language. I have also been working on a series of studies of the syntax of Maliseet-Passamaquoddy, while occasionally venturing a look at two other Eastern Algonquian languages, Western Abenaki and Penobscot.

Relevant Courses

  • ANTH E323 Indians of Indiana
  • ANTH L200 Language and Culture
  • ANTH L407 Language and Prehistory
  • SLST S600 Language Revitalization

Selected Recent Publications

In Press. The Analytic Expression of Predicates in Meskwaki. In Hypothesis A/Hypothesis B: Linguistic Explorations in Honor of David M. Perlmutter. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

2007. Tales from Maliseet Country: The Maliseet Texts of Karl V. Teeter. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

2006. Problems for the Pronominal Argument Hypothesis in Maliseet-Passamaquoddy. Language 82:486–514.

2006. Movement, Wh-Agreement, and Apparent Wh-in-situ. In Wh-Movement: Moving On, ed. Lisa Lai-Shen Cheng and Norbert Corver, 165–94. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. With Chris H. Reintges and Sandra Chung.

2005. Traditions of Koluskap, the Culture Hero. In Algonquian Spirit: Contemporary Translations of the Algonquian Literatures of North America, ed. Brian Swann. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.