Dr. Margaret Speas has an M.A. in Linguistics from the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was a professor of Linguistics for many years.
Margaret was introduced to Navajo in the late 1970s, when she worked with Navajo students at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. As a graduate student, she studied Navajo Linguistics with Professor Ken Hale, and attended several workshops at Dine College.
Over the years, Margaret has worked to help make linguistics accessible and useful to those whose languages are studied by linguists. She has worked with Navajo linguists, and has led numerous workshops for Navajo linguists and Navajo teachers interest in linguistics. Her paper ‘From Rules to Principles in the Study of Navajo Syntax’ explains some of the reasons that linguists have been interested in studying Navajo, and describes how linguistic theory has changed over the past 30 years, partly as a result of insights from the study of languages like Navajo. She is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Navajo Language Academy, the missions of which is to promote scholarship on the Navajo language and support Navajo teachers in their efforts to ensure that the Navajo language will continue to live in future generations.
Dr. Margaret Speas worked alongside Dr. Evangeline Parsons Yazzie to create the Diné Bizaad Bináhoo’aah: Rediscovering the Navajo Language textbook series.