Originally from San José, California, Professor Beck is the Coordinator of the Irish Language program at the Catholic University of America, as well as also lecturing in Spanish. He earned his BA from Princeton University, with a concentration in Near Eastern Studies. His studies focused on languages, particularly Persian, Japanese, Chinese, French, Spanish, and 7 others at a less advanced level. His bachelor’s thesis, “Soviet Language Policy: Learning from the Case of Tajikistan,” was awarded the T. Cuyler Young award for outstanding contributions to the field of Persian Studies.
Professor Beck taught English at the Kulob Institute of Technology in Kulob, Tajikistan, as a recipient of the Fulbright grant before then moving to Ireland where he completed his MA in Modern Irish at the National University of Ireland, Galway. His master’s thesis, “Scéal Teanga Pharóiste Chill Mhic Thaidhg: Scéal Cheantar Breac-Ghaeltachta agus Féiniúlacht Theanga a Phobail 1901-1950,” was awarded the second place in Duais an Dr. T. K. Whitaker sa Ghaeilge, for the most outstanding master’s thesis written in Irish by a student of an Irish university.
Professor Beck’s research, including the abovementioned theses, focuses on historical sociolinguistics, also known as historical linguistic anthropology, especially involving minority languages. This involves attempting to understand the historical context and factors that led to language shift in a particular language community. By understanding the power dynamic between ‘majority’ and minoritized languages in the past, it is possible to achieve a better understanding of the situation in the present and particularly about ways that the present situation might change in the future and whether it is possible to influence that trajectory.
Professor Beck is passionate about the Irish Language and is a language-rights activist as well as a teacher. He has taught Irish with several different organizations both public, in Ireland, and private, in the United States. He is also a published writer and regular news radio host in the Irish-language media. In his remaining free time, Professor Beck enjoys reading, playing computer games, and studying Maori.