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Grant number like: FN-50054-09

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Ellavina T. Perkins
Unaffiliated Independent Scholar (Flagstaff, AZ 86004)

Dynamic Language Infrastructure-Documenting Endangered Languages - Fellowships
Research Programs

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

Grant period:
9/1/2009 – 8/31/2010

Navajo Grammar Investigations

This is a critical time for the Navajo language. Although most Navajo adults can at least converse in the language, very few children of pre-school age can speak the language at all. Existing reference materials on Navajo focus on its magnificently complex verbal structure. However, there is no existing reference work that exposes the range and use of possible sentence structures. Several native speakers of Navajo have obtained advanced degrees in linguistics and recent years have brought increased momentum in theoretical and descriptive work on the grammar. This has resulted in a large quantity of theoretically significant work. However, much of it is highly technical, and a large portion of it is unpublished or out of print. This project will bring together insights gleaned over the years, complemented by original research to fill in the gaps, to complete a reference grammar that focuses on Navajo sentence structure. An abridged version of the grammar is now in press. This is a proposal for a year of fellowship support to allow Dr. Ellavina Perkins to continue work on this grammar which was begun with a three year NSF grant with two years of subsequent fellowship support. Dr. Perkins is a native speaker of Navajo and a linguist with vast experience teaching Navajo in K through 12 and at the university level. The reference grammar now under development will cover traditional topics but is unusual in that it includes teachers and curriculum planners as part of its target audience along with linguists. (Edited by staff)