Center for American Indian Languages

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University of Utah Center for American Indian Languages
Type Public
Established 2004
Location Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Campus Map

The Center for American Indian Languages (CAIL) is a research and outreach arm of the Department of Linguistics at the University of Utah. Its mission is to assist community members in the maintenance and revitalization (where possible) of endangered languages, to document these languages, and to train students to do this sort of work.


The Center was founded in 2004 by the well-known Americanist and historical linguist Lyle Campbell. It is located in the Fort Douglas part of the University of Utah campus.

A library, which contains over 3,000 books and journals on languages of the Americas, is part of the center.[1]

Shoshone language program for youth[edit]

A summer Shoshone/Goshute Youth Language Apprenticeship Program (SYLAP), held at the University of Utah's Center for American Indian Languages since 2009 has been featured on NPR's Weekend Edition program.[2][3][4] Shoshoni youth serve as interns, assisting with digitization of Shoshoni language recordings and documentation from the Wick R. Miller collection, so that the materials can be made available for tribal members.[2]

Closure of center in 2012[edit]

In August 2012, the University of Utah announced plans to close the Center for American Indian Languages. "The College of Humanities instead will concentrate language-preservation efforts on Utah's tribal tongues," according to one article.[5] This closure, said to be for focusing efforts on the language of Utah tribes, "has shocked many in the language conservation world.[6] Linguists, including Ives Goddard of the Smithsonian have expressed serious concern about the negative impact on efforts to preserve indigenous languages throughout the Americas.[5][7]


  1. ^ "CAIL Library and Computer Lab". University of Utah. 2009. Retrieved 2010-08-03. 
  2. ^ a b "Shoshone/Goshute Youth Language Apprenticeship Program". Center for American Indian Languages, University of Utah. Retrieved 2012-08-30. 
  3. ^ Paul Koepp (2010-07-21). "University of Utah program helps Shoshone youths keep language alive". Deseret News. Retrieved 2012-08-30. 
  4. ^ Jenny Brundin (2009-07-18). "Ten Teens Study To Guard Their Native Language". Morning Edition, NPR. Retrieved 2012-08-30. 
  5. ^ a b Associated Press. "Linguists' quest to preserve languages in danger after University of Utah closes unique center". The Republic. Columbus, Indiana. Retrieved 2012-10-07. 
  6. ^ Brian Maffly (2012-09-07). "U. of Utah dismantling native language center: Fate of the preservation efforts in question as focus narrows to Utah tribes.". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2012-10-07. 
  7. ^ Brian Maffly (2012-09-17). "University of Utah shifts focus on indigenous languages". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2012-10-07. 

External links[edit]