Documenting an Endangered Language

When:13 May 2014, 3pm - 4:30pm
Venue:Mathews 301 (map ref F23)
Who:Dr Ana Kondic, Center for Mexican and Mesoamerican Studies Mexico City
Dr Ana Kondic

Linguistics Occasional Seminar Series

Abstract: South Eastern Huastec is one of the least known Mayan languages. It is highly endangered as it is not passed to the new generations anymore; there is hardly anyone under 30 years of age who can speak it. This language is spoken by about 1700 people in the region of La Huasteca, northern Veracruz, Mexico. Dr Ana Kondic has undertaken extensive field work in the village of San Francisco, Chontla, documenting their fascinating language and culture.

Ana will share her experience of living and working with the Maya of the state of Veracruz, Mexico. The focus of the presentation will be on her documentation project and the last speakers of South Eastern Huastec, their world-view, their beliefs and their lifestyle that are quickly changing. Ana will also reflect on the community-linguist interaction issues that consume a large proportion of a field worker energy and time.

This project aimed to document the usage of the language in all its varieties and to create a digital database. It was financed by a SOAS HRELP grant (Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Program, the School of African and Asian Studies of the University of London, UK) and a Mexican Government scholarship.

Bio: Ana Kondic has a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Sydney and the University Lyon 2, France. Her research centers on description and documentation of American Indigenous Languages. Ana has carried out a five year project of documentation and description of South Eastern Huastec, a previously undescribed Mayan language spoken in Mexico. She is now finishing a documentation project with a different Maya language from Chiapas, Mexico. Ana also has an extensive experience in teaching Spanish and French at the University of Sydney.

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