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Grant number like: FN-230211-15

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Hiroko Sato
University of Hawaii at Manoa (Honolulu, HI 96822-2247)

Dynamic Language Infrastructure-Documenting Endangered Languages - Fellowships
Research Programs

[Grant products]

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

Grant period:
9/1/2015 – 8/31/2016

Documentation of the Bebeli Language, Papua New Guinea

Bebeli is one of the highly endangered Austronesian languages in the West New Britain region. Tok Pisin, a lingua franca in Papua New Guinea, is the dominant language in all domains among all generations of the Bebeli community. Children are not learning Bebeli anymore, and their parents do not teach it to them. There are about 780 speakers left. The last fluent speakers are in their 70s or older; those who are younger than 40 hardly understand the language. This situation is likely to continue or grow worse due to the area’s increasing accessibility and growing oil palm industry, which brings more contact with speakers of other languages. The main goals of the project are (1) to continue building a Bebeli corpus of annotated recordings, emphasizing culturally significant texts, and (2) to produce a comprehensive grammar and a topical dictionary of the language. The research will be conducted in two ways. First, the University of Hawai’i will serve as a base, and collaborative research will be conducted with several professors in the Linguistics Department there. Second, field research will be carried out on one extended field trip in the Bebeli area. The focus of the fieldwork will be on collecting a large amount of texts and annotating them as well as eliciting linguistic data. The data will be deposited with Kaipuleohone, the University of Hawai’i Digital Ethnographic Archive for permanent archiving. (Edited by staff)