New Episode of ‘The Backdrop’ Podcast Features Lewis Lawyer on Documenting One of California’s Indigenous Languages

Episode 7 Explores Patwin With the UC Davis Alumnus Who Compiled the First-Ever Published Description of the Language

In what is now California, close to 100 Indigenous languages were spoken before Europeans arrived. According to UNESCO, most of the languages native to the Americas are critically endangered — many others are entirely extinct.

Linguist Lewis Lawyer, a UC Davis alumnus, has compiled the first-ever published description of one of those languages, Patwin — originally spoken in hundreds of communities in Northern California.

In this episode of The Backdrop, Lawyer discusses the history of the language, how he came to publish A Grammar of Patwin, and how the language is making a comeback.

The Backdrop podcast is a monthly interview program featuring conversations with UC Davis scholars and researchers working in the social sciences, humanities, arts and culture. It is available free, on demand at Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, TuneIn, Stitcher and Spotify. The Backdrop is hosted by public radio veteran Soterios Johnson.

Media Resources

Media Contacts:

  • Kathleen Holder, College of Letters and Science, 530-752-8585,
  • Lewis Lawyer,
  • Soterios Johnson, 530-454-5956,

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