Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Prof. E. Thurgood

Dear Julie McIntosh,
Last week was CSU Chico's first week of classes so it was hectic as usual. I am writing to respond to your email and phone message. I took the liberty of also consulting with my husband Graham, also a linguist with experience in documentation, since the documentation of Konkow would be quite valuable to future generations.

I am not a expert on Maidu so I looked in the sources I have at hand. It is obvious that work has been done on but it is clear from what I could find quickly that there are at least four distinct Maiduan languages, with some dialectal variation in each of them. Eatough (1999:1) describes the distinctions: "
(1) Konkow or Northwestern Maidu, which was spoken along the lower reaches of the Feather River Canyon and in the nearby hills and portions of the Sacramento Valley;
(2) Chico, which was spoken in the Sacramento Valley just to the south of Chico and in the Chico area;
(3) Mountain Maidu, or Northeastern Nisenan or Southern Maidu, which was spoken east and south of Mount Lasssen about as far as Quincy; and
(4) Niesenan or Southern Maidu, which was spoken in the Sierra Nevada foothills between the Yuba River's north fork and the Cosumnes Rivers's north fork and in the Sacramento Valley between the lower Feather Rivere and the lower American River."

I am assuming that all the above is known to you. What was clear was that a lot of work has been done on some of the Maidu languages; what was not clear was whether much work has been done on Konkow or Northwestern Maidu.

I assume that you already know what has already been done and what has not. If you are not aware of what has already been done, this needs to be be done. If some of the work has been done, there is little point in repeating it. Two individuals could at least give you an idea about what has been done: William Shipley and Andrew Eatough; Shipley is quite old but very knowledgeable; Eatough is younger but certainly competent. There is also a volume by Lyle Campbell (1997) American Indian Languages: The Historical Linguistics of Native America, which should give an overview of what has been done.

The two other components are a fluent consultant, the hard part, and a good linguist, hard but not as hard as finding a good consultant. In any case, my expertise lies outside of Maidu and have committed myself to other projects.

Regardless of who you get to help, I suspect the time line is far too short. The 15th of September is already here. I wish you luck. If the work has not been done, it needs to be done almost immediately,
Best, Ela

Ela Thurgood Associate Professor,
Department of EnglishLinguistics Major Adviser http://www.csuchico.edu/engl/LinguisticsBA/BA.html
California State University, Chico; Chico, CA 95929-0830 http://www.csuchico.edu/~elzbieta/ElaThurgood.html

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