Western Mexico language documentation fellowship received
(August 2010) The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have granted SIL linguist Stephen Marlett, Ph.D., a 12-month fellowship. This project will undertake a broad and multifaceted documentation and description of the Me’phaa genus (Otomanguean family, Guerrero, Mexico). It will produce digital recordings—both video and audio—vocabulary, grammar and texts. These will provide the basis for on-going language development and linguistic study.
Me’phaa (previously known as Tlapanec) is a language genus that is part of the more increasingly known and documented Otomanguean language family. The Me’phaa branch of Otomanguean—like other languages of Mexico—is under stress from sociological factors that put it at risk. Contemporary language shift is in process, both from Me’phaa to Spanish and from one dialect of Me’phaa to another. The Me’phaa genus has many interesting features that are still relatively unknown and insufficiently documented.
Besides giving an important contribution to the linguistic community, this more complete documentation of Me’phaa will be an important contribution to the Me’phaa community since parts of the documentation materials will be available in both Spanish and English.
The project publications and public presentations in Mexico will be an important link for three communities in particular:
- Me’phaa teachers and writers who will be given new resources
- New researchers (from various disciplines) who will receive a clearer understanding of the language and its special features
- The general public in Mexico which is not well-informed about the Me’phaa language