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2009 FEL Grants announced

This year 10 grants were awarded for a total of approximately $8,900 (US). Following is a list of the successful applicants, with brief details of their projects, and provisional sums awarded shown in US dollars:


Language(s); task in brief


Purpose of grant

Amount of grant

Ana Paula Barros Brandao

Paresi; Document the language

State of Mato Grosso, Brazil

The Paresi people number approximately 2000. To date, the Paresi language has had limited documentation. The goal of this project is to document the Paresi language, contributing to its preservation and revitalization, and to advance linguistic research about the language. These Indians are divided in at least three subgroups: Kashíniti, Waimaré, and Korázini (Kozarene). The majority of the population is bilingual in Paresi and Portuguese, with Paresi as their first language. Paresi has a low number of speakers and a high degree of endangerment. Approximately half a dozen or fewer speak the Waimaré variety, and the Kaxiniti variety is almost extinct with only two or three speakers.


Robert Borges, Margot van den Berg

Kumanti and Papagadu; Publish a booklet

Tapanahoni River, Eastern Suriname

This project proposes research in Ndyuka territory in eastern Surinam to collect linguistic data on Kumanti and Papagadu in close collaboration with anthropologists as well as Nduyka experts on Kumanti and Papagadu. It further aims at collecting and archiving linguistic data to facilitate a description of the basic linguistic structures. The output of the research will be returned to the community in the following year in an accessible format (mostly likely booklets), such that the community will have a record of these languages. Findings will further be detailed in scientific papers and a chapter in the applicant’s PhD thesis. With only 50 Kumanti and 100 Papagadu speakers left, speakers of these ritual languages fear their extinction within the next 1-2 decades. Ndyuka spirit culture has been studied from an anthropological perspective, but not  the languages of the Kumanti and Papagadu spirit cults.


Martine Bruil

Ecuadorian Siona; Create reading materials

Cuyabeno, Ecuador

Ecuadorian Siona is an endangered language with less than 200 speakers. More and more are starting to speak only Spanish. This project is to lay a basis for the documentation of Ecuadorian Siona in order to aid revitalization. Stories and conversations will be recorded in order to create a small corpus. Various texts will be transcribed together with Siona speakers and made available to the Siona community as reading materials in schools. Aspects of the grammar will be described using the transcribed texts and asking Siona speakers for their views. The resulting description can be used by schoolteachers to help teach these difficult aspects of the grammar to children who no longer learn Siona as a first language.


Shuping Huang

Isbukun Bunun; Build a language corpus

Central  Taiwan

Isbukun Bunun is an Austronesian language spoken in the central-southern mountainous areas of Taiwan. In addition to sinicization via Chinese immigrants, a biased language policy has suppressed the use of Isbukun Bunun in all public contexts and has seriously damaged its vitality. Today, the speech population is less than 5,000 and 90% of fluent speakers are aged over 55. Although elders still use their language, the younger generation mostly speaks Mandarin Chinese as their first language, and Isbukun is likely to become extinct if no action is taken. This project will document speech data in audio, visual, and transcription forms. Isbukuns will be trained to collect, analyze, and document their language in order to build a corpus of narration, conversation, and the interlinearized Bunun Bible. The on-line corpus will be accessible to educators, cultural organizations, language learners and teachers who are looking for resources to improve their language proficiency and to generate teaching materials.


Susan Kalt

Quechua; Document language in rural Andes

Cuzco, Peru; Cochabamba and Chuquisaca, Bolivia

This project will support children’s acquisition and maintenance of Quechua in rural highland Bolivia and Peru. According to the most recent Peruvian Census, declaration of Quechua as the language learned in childhood declined 3.3 percent between 1993-2007. Most children are immersed in Spanish upon entering school, and Quechua language, culture and ways of teaching are poorly integrated into the school curriculum.
This project combines reporting on children's Quechua and Spanish grammar in rural Andean schools with workshops presenting parents, teachers and teacher educators with a prototype for incorporating indigenous input in the curriculum, in the form of thematic, multimedia bundles that include books, songs, games, projects and lesson plans. The project team includes indigenous educators experienced in curriculum design who will train parents and teachers to develop, store and exchange their own kits (Yachaywasipaq q'ipikuna) to promote Quechua language, culture and ways of teaching in the rural classroom.


John Kerby

Toda Sedeq; Publish CD recordings of stories

Nantou County, Taiwan

This project aims to provide texts in Toda Sedeq by a native speaker in a format that can be used by children and other people aspiring to learn the language. It will produce an audio version of the texts with Chinese and Japanese translations to make them accessible to the younger and older generations. The original texts were told by a renowned and highly respected native speaker who has a vast array of knowledge about traditional Sedeq culture. The texts are of extreme historical value and publishing them, even in limited edition, will spur interest both in language revival and traditional culture.
The proposed publication is anticipated to be one of a series published for Chinese and/or Japanese readers.


Lila San Roque

Duna; Publish a booklet

Koroba-Kopiago, Papua New Guinea

The Duna people live in a remote area of the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Their language and culture have suffered intense upheaval over the past decades as they have come into contact with national and global communities, including missionising and mining organisations. Today, Duna people are coping with severe disadvantage in areas of health, education, income and land productivity. People continue to take strength from their sense of Duna identity and community but a key feature of this identity, the Duna language, has a doubtful future. Duna is not used for basic literacy and numeracy education in elementary schools, and there are hardly any Duna print media available. In April 2009 teachers in the Duna-speaking area got together to develop some school and health materials written in Duna. This project will print these booklets and transport them to Duna schools and aid posts, providing a step towards Duna people being able to access basic education and life-saving information in their own language.


Ricard Vinas de Puig

Tzotzil, Mixtec and other indigenous languages; Publish a dictionary

North and Central America

This project aims at the promotion of the indigenous languages spoken by members of the (im)migrant community in eastern North Carolina. The main objective is to create a dictionary with the active participation of and decision-making by the speakers both in the initial (linguistic survey and data elicitation) and in the final stages (design and publication). The visual multilingual dictionary will portray the different language varieties of the community (including, but not limited to, Tzotzil, Mixtec, and other indigenous languages of North and Central America). It will be returned to the community for usage and distribution.
The benefits of this project include self-empowering of the community, and raising awareness of the linguistic diversity present within the ‘Latino’ population in the area.


Linda Westberg, Matthew Tasker

Sapara; Publish teaching materials

Pastaza province, Ecuador

To address the near extinction of the Sapara language which is presently only spoken by five elders who are all over 75 years of age, Project Yanawka has spent eight months working with the Sapara people to create innovative educational material in order to help teach their language in their schools.
Through community-based workshops we are proud to have provided the first opportunity for the Sapara to collectively write a textbook and to help produce audiovisual material to document and teach their language to their children. This project will publish the textbook and produce audiovisual material on CDs so that the Sapara are able to start using the material in their schools and homes to begin revitalising their language.


Christina Willis

Darma, Byangsi and Chaudangsi; Document the Rang languages

Uttarakhand, India

This project will continue work on Darma, an endangered Tibeto-Burman language spoken in the Indian Himalayas, and will be extended to include two other closely related endangered Tibeto-Burman languages. Together these three varieties have no more than 6,000 speakers. With no writing system and marginal status, these languages must be documented before they are lost forever in the face of the threat from English and Hindi.


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