About Ross

I am a linguist, writer, and translator from New York City - Lenapehoking.

As a linguist, I serve as co-director of the non-profit Endangered Language Alliance, where since 2013 I have overseen research projects focused on language documentation, mapping, policy, and public programming. Himalayan languages are a focus – for my PhD, I created a trilingual dictionary, a corpus of recordings, and a descriptive grammar of Trung, an endangered language of southwest China, based on several years of fieldwork. I also teach linguistics at Columbia.

As a writer, I have written on language, labor, and China for The New York Times, The Guardian, and Harper's, among other places, and I published a book on unpaid work and youth economics (Intern Nation). I have given talks to students, scholars, employers, career counselors, union members, activists, and politicians at venues including the Googleplex, the UK Parliament, the Economic Policy Institute, and universities and colleges across America. I have been on MSNBC, CBS, Fox, the BBC, NPR, and many other radio and TV stations.

As a translator, I work primarily from Chinese into English. I translated Liao Yiwu's Bullets and Opium (2019) and Chen Guangcheng's The Barefoot Lawyer (2015). I have recorded two Yiddish-language video series for The Forward and translated essays, stories, and poems as a National Yiddish Book Center Translation Fellow.

I have a BA from Stanford, an M.Phil. from Cambridge, and an MA from the University of London (SOAS), the last two thanks to the British people as a Marshall Scholar. My PhD in Linguistics is from the University of Bern in Switzerland.

I'm currently working on a book about New York and its languages, with support from a Gardiner Fellowship at the Gotham Center for New York City History and the Café Royal Cultural Foundation.

You can contact me at ross DOT perlin AT gmail DOT com.

This work is under a Creative Commons license.

Photo by Nicole Galpern.

Last updated: 10 October 2021.