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Grant number like: FN-50035-08

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John Foreman
Utica College of Syracuse University (Utica, NY 13502-4857)

Dynamic Language Infrastructure-Documenting Endangered Languages - Fellowships
Research Programs

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

Grant period:
8/1/2008 – 7/31/2009

A Dictionary and Wiki of Macuiltianguis Zapotec

The language of Macuiltianguis Zapotec (MacZ) is an endangered Otomanguean language of Oaxaca, Mexico, with immigrant communities in Mexico City and Southern California. Currently, I am engaged with these communities in a project to create an online resource for scholars and native speakers alike that will contain multimedia (photos, audio, video) and multilingual (English, Spanish, and Zapotec) content including a dictionary, a grammar, and pedagogical materials for language revitalization. In addition, the material will be built up as a moderated wiki, a collaborative web site. This will allow other researchers to add content and enable native speakers to also generate content, which will increase the native community's sense of ownership in the material, allow for faster generation of content, and encourage younger, heritage speakers to become involved in the language by drawing on their interest in technology. The dictionary will allow a chance to address some of the shortcomings of previous works on Sierra Juarez Zapotec. In addition it will allow the study of microdialectal variation between MacZ and Atepec Zapotec and the Zapotec of surrounding communities. For the web site we are developing technology to turn wikis into structured databases that could have far-reaching applications well beyond language documentations. We are also testing whether wikis can work for language documentation and revitalization and hope others will adopt our approach and improve upon it. The site can contribute to comparative work on Zapotec and to the study of dialects and microvariation. And eventually it may serve as a foundation for still more ambitious crosslinguistic and crossdialectal comparisons if other scholars and communities contribute to the resource. (Edited by staff)