Dr. Craig Kopris


Dr. Craig Kopris has a Ph.D. in linguistics and an M.A. each in linguistics and French. He has more than 17 years of training and experience in linguistic analysis, covering language description, parsing, machine translation, name analysis, endangered language revitalization, functionalist theory and typology.

The wide range of languages he has investigated as researcher, language learner, or both, include French, German, Russian, Persian, Pashto, Urdu (Indo-European); Seneca, Wandat, Cherokee, Huron-Wendat (Iroquoian); Tamil (Dravidian); Tagalog (Austronesian); Arabic (Afro-Asiatic); and ASL; with publications on Pashto, Seneca, Waandat and Cherokee.

He has taught French, Linguistics and English at the college level, as well as name analysis courses for the U.S. Department of State.

Current work focuses on rule-based machine translation of Indo-Iranian languages, development of techniques to improve preparation of new systems for such, and creation of Perl tools to facilitate work on both.

Craig grew up in upstate New York in a town the Mohawks once called Canastigione, after some corn flats there. At his K-12 school, Shenendehowa, all the buildings had names from languages in the Iroquoian family, the school taught him the story of Sky Woman and the Twins in first grade. Maybe his interest in history and languages stems from there.

In high school he studied German and French, and majored in the latter at Siena College. The State University of New York at Albany washis next stop, for a master’s in French. There he discovered linguistics, and went to Buffalo for a master’s and doctorate in his new field.

In Buffalo he became an Iroquoianist, a linguist specializing in the languages once spoken throughout his home state, and beyond. This gave him the wonderful opportunity to have heard spoken every living language in the family. His master’s thesis was on a theoretical problem in Seneca, and his dissertation was a descriptive grammar and dictionary of Wyandot. Buffalo was where he also became interested in language preservation and development. Since then he’s helped with a reference book on Cherokee verbs for the Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah.

Nowadays he lives in the Washington DC area, working for a company that specializes in machine translation (using computers to translate real languages), where he deals with languages such as Pashto, Persian and Tagalog.

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