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Grant number like: FN-50128-14

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Keri Eggleston
Unaffiliated independent scholar

Dynamic Language Infrastructure-Documenting Endangered Languages - Fellowships
Research Programs

[Grant products]

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

Grant period:
9/1/2014 – 2/28/2016

The Next Critical Step in Documenting Tlingit

This project will nearly double the level of documentation of Tlingit verbs by expanding on an existing database containing 575 Tlingit verb paradigms with an additional 500 verbs through fieldwork with speakers. Tlingit is an endangered language spoken in Southeast Alaska and in neighboring parts of British Columbia and the Yukon Territory. There are currently 114 known fluent speakers in both the U.S. and Canada. Nearly all of these birth speakers are over eighty. While there are a fair number of publications in and about Tlingit, the language remains undocumented in a number of areas of its grammar, including hundreds of undocumented (and unpredictable) verb paradigms. The proposed activities rely heavily on collaboration with birth speakers of Tlingit, and with the number of such speakers rapidly dwindling, our window of opportunity for completing this work is probably about five years. The verb in Tlingit houses most of the grammatical complexity of the language and is therefore something that learners truly must master in order to make themselves understood. Expansion of the verb database will assist learners with difficult and unpredictable verb conjugations, will support teachers of the language, most of who are not fluent, and will also reveal general patterns of Tlingit verb classes, which will further inform linguists interested in the Na-Dene language family. The data (both text and audio) will be archived at the Alaska Native Language Archives, and the database will be housed on the Alaska Native Knowledge Network server and website at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and will additionally be linked on the web from a number of existing sites dedicated to the preservation of Alaska Native language and culture, ensuring accessibility by a wide range of users. (Edited by staff)