Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mooretown Rancheria Langauge Documentation Abstract

Mooretown Rancheria Language Documentation Project


The Concow-Maidu Indians of northern California now live primarily on the Berry Creek, Enterprise, Mooretown rancherias, and neighboring communities. The goal of this first year of a multi-year project is to document the nearly extinct Northwestern Maidu language (also called Konkow or Concow Maidu), now believed to have no more than four fluent speakers, and to create academic and pedagogical materials for use in language revitalization efforts. Although other Maiduan languages, particularly Northeastern (Mountain) Maidu, have received scholarly attention, Northwestern Maidu has so far been the subject of only limited study, and virtually none within the past forty years. The documentation of this language is urgent. The primary activities of the first year of this project include: video and audio recording of the speech of the remaining speakers; transcription of selected recordings; creation of a lexical database from both earlier sources and current speakers; creation of an inventory of all extant written and electronic materials relating to the language; and the first steps in the development of pedagogical materials, including a grammar. All language documentation materials will be prepared in a variety of paper, analog, and digital formats to make them maximally available both to the local indigenous communities and to researchers.

This project has two goals. One is to create, preserve, and prepare materials on this language while there are still fluent speakers. Never has it been clearer that every human language represents a unique intellectual achievement, and that the loss of any language is a loss of knowledge that has repercussions far beyond the local community. The documentation of the Concow Maidu language will set the foundation for integrated research activities for the Maidu community, as well as for linguists. These first steps in documentation will prepare the way for the creation of a variety of resources to be used in language revitalization. The second goal is to collect data for what will ultimately be a comprehensive description of this language—of value both to Maidu people and to the scholarly community.

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