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Virtual Panel ‘Were 18 languages spoken in New Amsterdam?’ by the New Amsterdam History Center

Courtesy of New Amsterdam History Center

Tue, Oct 11 - Tue, Oct 11  2022

Join the New Amsterdam History Center for a virtual panel tonight from 6PM to 7 PM. The panel discusses the question ‘Were 18 Languages Spoken in New Amsterdam?,’ spotlighting the formerly overlooked role of languages spoken by indigenous populations as well as by free and enslaved people. 

It is often said that 18 languages were spoken in New Amsterdam. In researching his forthcoming linguistic history of New York, linguist Ross Perlin has discovered that there may have been many more than 18! He suggests a higher count that includes formerly overlooked languages spoken by the Indigenous population and the free and enslaved people brought here from Asia and Africa. He explores how the new port, New Amsterdam, was Native American, African, and European from the beginning, with the template for the city’s extraordinary multilingualism thus set at the very start of Dutch rule.

The online conversation is between linguist Ross Perlin, Co-Director of the Endangered Language Alliance and historian Peter-Christian Aigner, Director of the Gotham Center for New York City History.

Register here. Or join the webinar via this link.

About the Panelists
Ross Perlin (PhD University of Bern) is Co-Director of the Endangered Language Alliance, managing research projects on mapmaking, documentation, policy, and public programming for urban linguistic diversity. He is a linguist, writer, and translator focused on exploring and supporting linguistic diversity. He has also written on language, culture, and politics for The New York Times, The Guardian, Harper’s, and elsewhere. He teaches linguistics at Columbia. In 2021-22 he was a Robert D.L. Gardiner Foundation writing fellow at CUNY’s Gotham Center.

Peter-Christian Aigner is an historian of twentieth-century America (PhD, The Graduate Center, CUNY). He is the author of a work on Daniel Patrick Moynihan and is currently working on a second book, re-conceptualizing local and national history from a modern global perspective. Dr. Aigner has published essays in The Nation, The Atlantic, and The New Republic. As head of the Gotham Center, he leads all programming. At his initiative, the organization has introduced a variety of new programs, including the establishment of its first research grant.

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