Margaret Speas


Margaret Speas

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.

Books by Margaret Speas

Diné Bizaad Bináhoo’aah: Rediscovering the Navajo Language

This 448 page textbook provides a verb-based introduction to the Navajo language for college and secondary students. Students are introduced to the Navajo sound system and the Navajo writing system. Clear explanations of vocabulary and grammar provide students with a solid foundation for building communications skills. Through readings, photos and writing exercises, students broaden their knowledge of geography, history and culture.

Students will rediscover the Navajo language and develop communicative competence with Diné Bizaad Bínáhoo’aah: Rediscovering the Navajo Language: