Tyler Peterson

Ross-Blakley Hall (RBHL) Room 235
1102 S. McAllister Avenue
Assistant Professor
TEMPE Campus
Asst Professor
TEMPE Campus


Tyler Peterson's personal and professional roots are in the Pacific northwest of Canada. He did his dissertation with Lisa Matthewson on the Gitksan language (Tsimshianic) at the University of British Columbia. He is an assistant professor in the Department of English at Arizona State University. Although his professional home is in an English department, his work focuses on the documentation, revitalization, and maintenance of endangered Indigenous languages, primarily in the Americas and Oceania. He has a special interest in exploring how everyday technology and contemporary media can be used as a tool for language documentation and engaging the language learner, as well as developing teaching resources in these areas. His research as a linguist involves the theoretical and empirical approaches to the study of meaning (semantics and pragmatics). Previous to my position at ASU, he was visiting lecturer at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. In this part of the world, he has a number of currently active language documentation and research projects that brings his interests together. One of these projects is on the Cook Islands Māori, which includes a component dedicated to language revitalization, maintenance and literacy.

Being situated in Arizona, he has experience working with the Indigenous communities and languages in the U.S. Southwest. He was the interim program coordinator of the Native American Masters Program (NAMA). NAMA is a specialized master's of arts degree that is oriented towards training Indigenous language educators and activists in linguistics, language maintenance, revitalization and policy. In addition to his various research projects in linguistics, he is also active in outreach, teaching and developing curricula for the American Indian Language Development Institute (AILDI), an independent program within the College of Education at the University of Arizona. AILDI is one of the longest continually running organizations dedicated to providing critical training to Indigenous language educators and community activists.


  • PhD. Linguistics, University of British Columbia 2010. Dissertation: Epistemic Modality and Evidentiality in Gitksan at the Semantics-Pragmatics Interface.
  • B.Mus. Music theory; Minor: Russian Literature, University of British Columbia 1999


Translating and Interpreting Popular Media into Native Languages (AILDI)

Google Scholar


Books and edited volumes

To appear in 2020. The Language of Surprise: Linguistic and Psychological Perspectives on Mirativity. Cambridge University Press  

2010. Evidence from Evidentials. T. Peterson & U. Sauerland (eds), Vancouver: University of British Columbia Working Papers in Linguistics (UBCWPL), Volume 28.

2005. ICSNL XL: Proceedings of the 40th Int’l. Conference on Salish and Neighbouring Languages, J.C. Brown., M. Kiyota & T. Peterson (eds), Vancouver: UBCWPL

2004. ICSNL XXXIX: Proceedings of the 39th Int’l. Conference on Salish and Neighbouring Languages, J.C. Brown & T. Peterson (eds), Vancouver: UBCWPL


Articles and chapters (peer reviewed)

Peterson, T. to appear. "Mirativity in Morphology" in Oxford Encyclopedia of Morphology, Oxford: OUP

Celle, A., L. Lansari, A. Jugnet, T. Peterson. 2019. “Interrogatives in surprise contexts in English.” In A. Celle and N. Depraz (eds.) Consciousness and Emotion. Benjamins. pp. 117-138.  

Pérez-Leroux, A., T. Peterson, A. Castilla, S. Béjar, D. Massam, and Yves Roberge. 2018. “The Acquisition of Recursive Modification in NPs” Language 94(2)

Peterson, T. 2018. “Epistemic Modality and Evidentiality in Gitksan” in Handbook of Evidentiality. A. Aikhenvald (ed.), Oxford: OUP. pp.463-489

Peterson, T. 2018. “On the Status of Applicatives in Tsimshianic” in Matthewson, Lisa, Erin Guntly and Michael Rochemont (eds.) Wa7 xweysás i nqwal'utteníha i ucwalmícwa: He loves the people's languages. Essays in honour of Henry Davis. Vancouver, BC: UBC Occasional Papers in Linguistics vol. 6.

Peterson T. 2017. “Problematizing Mirativity” Review of Cognitive Linguistics 15(2), 312--342 (special volume on surprise and mirativity)

Peterson, T. 2017. “Alignments Across Tsimshianic” in Handbook of Ergativity. D. Massam, J. Coon, and L. Travis (eds), Oxford: OUP. pp.1007-1034.

Pérez-Leroux, A., A. Castilla-Earls, S. Béjar, D. Massam, and T. Peterson. 2017. “Strong continuity and children's development of DP recursion” in Recursion across Domains. In T. Roeper, A. Nevins, L. Amaral, M. Maia (eds), Cambridge: CUP

Brown J., T. Peterson, K. Craig. 2016. “Belief, Evidence, and Interactional Meaning in Urama” Oceanic Linguistics. 55(2), 431-448

Peterson, T. 2016. “Mirativity as Surprise: Evidentiality, Information, and Deixis” Journal of Psycholinguistic Research. 45:1327--1357; doi: 10.1007/s10936-015-9408-9

Peterson T. 2015. “The Semantics of Grammatical Evidentiality and the Unprepared Mind” Review of Cognitive Linguistics, 13(2), 314-352. doi 10.1075/rcl.13.2.03pet [reprinted in Benjamins Current Topics (2017) vol. 92, pp.51-89]

Peterson, T. 2012. Book review: About the Speaker: Towards a Syntax of Indexicality. Alessandra Giorgi. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2010); 2012. Lingua 122(8)

Brown J. and T. Peterson. 2007. “Grammaticalization And Strategies In Resolving Subject Marking Paradoxes: the Case of Tsimshianic” in Studies In Natural Language And Linguistic Theory. Vol. 72, de Hoop, Helen; de Swart, Peter (eds), Dordrecht: Springer pp. 223-245 [alphabetical co-authors]

Peterson, T. and G. Picanço. 2007. “Dynamic Correspondences: An Object-Oriented Approach to Tracking Sound Reconstructions” in Proceedings of the 9th Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics – Special Interest Group in Computational Morphology and Phonology, J. Nerbonne, T. M. Ellison and G. Kondrak (eds). ACL. pp. 126-133 oai:CiteSeerX.psu: (peer reviewed proceedings)

Peterson, T. 2006. “Issues of Morphological Ergativity in the Tsimshian Languages: Determiners, Agreement and the Reconstruction of Case” in Case, Valency and Transitivity (Studies in Language Companion Series, 77). L. Kulikov, A. Malchukov, and P. de Swart (eds), Amsterdam: John Benjamins pp. 65-90. DOI: 10.1075/slcs.77.06pet


Papers in conference proceedings (peer reviewed by abstract)

2015. “Structural Complexity and the Acquisition of Recursive Locative PPs” in Proceedings of the 45th Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society [first co-author; with A.T. Pérez-Leroux, A. Castilla-Earls, D. Massam, and S. Béjar]

2012a. “Some Remarks on the Morphosemantics of Multiple Causative Sequences” in Papers from the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, Berkeley: Berkeley Linguistics Society.

2012b. “The Role of the Ordering Source in Gitksan Epistemic Modals” in Proceedings of Semantics of Under-Represented Languages in the Americas (SULA 6), Amherst: GLSA.

2010. “Perfective aspect and actuality entailments: a cross-linguistic approach” in Proceedings of the Semantics of Under-represented Languages in the Americas (SULA 5), Amherst, Mass: GLSA Publications. [alphabetical co-authors Henry Davis, Meagan Louie, Lisa Matthewson, Ileana Paul, Amelia Reis Silva].

2010. “Introduction: Evidence from Evidentials” in Evidence from Evidentials. T. Peterson and U. Sauerland (eds), Vancouver: UBCWPL. [alphabetical co-authors: R.M. Déchaine, U. Sauerland]

2010. “On the Semantics of Conjectural Questions” in Evidence from Evidentials. T. Peterson and U. Sauerland (eds), Vancouver: UBCWPL. [alphabetical co-authors: P. Littell, L. Matthewson]

2010. “Examining the Mirative and Non-literal Uses of Evidentials” in Evidence from Evidentials. T. Peterson and U. Sauerland (eds), Vancouver: UBCWPL (paper presented at GLOW 31)

2004a. “The (Re)organization of Semantic Roles in Tsimshian Connectives” in ICSNL XXXIX: Proceedings of the 39th International Conference on Salish and Neighbouring Languages, J.C. Brown & T. Peterson (eds), Van: UBCWPL pp. 323-340

2008. “Pragmatic Blocking in Gitksan Evidential Expressions” in Proceedings of the 38th Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society, A. Schardl, M. Walkow, M. Abdurrahman (eds), Amherst, Mass: GLSA Publications

2007a. “Minimality and Syllabification in Kabardian” in Papers from the 39th Meeting of the Chicago Linguistics Society, J. Cihlar, A. Franklin, and D. Kaiser (eds), Chicago: University of Chicago pp. 215-235

2007b. “Analytical Database Design: Approaches in the Mapping between Cognate and Semantic Sets” in Proceedings of the Seventh International Workshop on Computational Semantics IWCS-7, J. Goertzen, E. Thijsse, H. Bunt, A. Schiffrin (eds). Tilburg: Tilburg University Dept. of Communication and Information Sciences. pp. 359-361

2004b. “Theoretical issues in the representation of the glottal stop in Blackfoot” in Proceedings from the 7th Workshop on American Indigenous Languages, Vol. 15, L. Harper and C. Jany (eds). Santa Barbara: SBPL pp. 106-121

Research Activity

Swooxsxw: the Language of the Traditional Ways and the Gitksan Family
2019-2020: Aboriginal Language Initiative (First Peoples' Cultural Council); Gitxsan Child and Family Services Society

Our goal is to create five video recordings of Gitksan elders' interviews, stories, or lessons in the Gitksan language, with a specific focus on traditional practices and healing in the Gitksan family. Through internship opportunities for Gitksan language activists, this project will help train the next generation of Gitksan community linguists as well provide the source materials that can be used to generate materials that will be used by the Family Enhancement Workers at the GCFSS.

Assessing and Documenting the Vitality of Native American Languages
2016-19: Documenting Endangered Languages (NSF-NEH DEL BCS # 1601738)

This pilot project responds to the fact that there is not a current systematic assessment of the Native American languages of the United States. As such, the initial step is to create a model for grass-roots assessment that can be shared with tribal communities throughout the U.S. This project departs from traditional language documentation research in that it will lead to the documentation of language status, aiming to meet a national need. This aim will be achieved in collaboration with Native American community-based researchers in Arizona, Montana, and New Mexico. Working together with specialists in qualitative and quantitative data analysis and processing, a model of language vitality assessment will be developed and piloted creating a cohort of community researchers versed in research protocol, assessment design and implementation, data collection and management, data storage and use of assessment data for grant-writing. In doing this we broaden participation and empower the community language practitioner. To give you an idea of some of the (preliminary) results this project has yielded, in January 2019 we held a training workshop at the Tohono O'odham Community College in Sells, Arizona, where our project collaborators took on the role of training the workshop participants in survey design, using the methods and materials we developed as part of our project.

Modality in Cook Islands Māori
2017-2018: Faculty Research Development Fund (University of Auckland)

The goals of this project are twofold: the first is to provide the first empirical study of its kind on how modality is linguistically realized in Cook Islands Māori (CIM). This is a novel undertaking in CIM language and linguistic studies, and ideally we can both enrich the existing linguistic record of CIM and add detail to our relatively nascent understanding of the typology (the study cross-linguistic generalizations) of modality. The second goal seeks a theoretical explanation of the CIM facts by bringing this primary linguistic data to bear upon the predominant theories of modality. This will be done by implementing a formal semantic (logical) analysis of the primary language data that tests the several (often untested and competing) predictions that are made by the contemporary theoretical approaches to modality.



Spring 2022
Course Number Course Title
ENG 213 Intro to the Study of Language
SLC 494 Special Topics
AIS 494 Special Topics
HUL 494 Special Topics
ENG 494 Special Topics
SLC 598 Special Topics
AIS 598 Special Topics
LIN 598 Special Topics
HUL 598 Special Topics
Fall 2021
Course Number Course Title
ENG 403 Semantics
ENG 414 Studies in Linguistics
LIN 513 Semantics
Spring 2021
Course Number Course Title
ENG 213 Intro to the Study of Language
LIN 510 Linguistics
Fall 2020
Course Number Course Title
ENG 213 Intro to the Study of Language
ENG 403 Semantics
LIN 513 Semantics
Fall 2019
Course Number Course Title
LIA 194 Special Topics
ENG 403 Semantics
ENG 414 Studies in Linguistics
LIN 513 Semantics
Spring 2019
Course Number Course Title
LIN 510 Linguistics
LIN 610 Advanced Studies Linguistics
Fall 2018
Course Number Course Title
ENG 403 Semantics
LIN 513 Semantics
Spring 2018
Course Number Course Title
ENG 414 Studies in Linguistics
LIN 510 Linguistics

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