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Grant number like: FA-53753-08

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Don Kulick
New York University (New York, NY 10012-1019)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
2/1/2009 – 1/31/2010

Taiap: The Dying Language That Didn't Die in Gapun, New Guinea

Taiap is a linguistic isolate spoken by fewer than 100 people in Gapun, a single village in northern Papua New Guinea. A recent reconnaissance trip back to Gapun, 20 years after my initial research, revealed that Taiap is not moribund, as I predicted in my 1992 study. The generation of children I documented as being the first in village history to not acquire Taiap as their first language came to activate their passive competence in the vernacular at some point during adolescence and they speak it with seeming proficiency. This is a situation that has important implications for broader understandings of endangered languages and the process of language shift. The proposed research is a follow-up study that will analyze social and linguistic developments in Gapun since the 1980s, with particular attention to trans-generational language socialization practices, the talk of adolescents, and the linguistic analysis of this still-threatened and virtually undocumented vernacular.