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Grant number like: PD-50007-08

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University of Nebraska, Lincoln (Lincoln, NE 68588-0007)
Mark Joseph Awakuni-Swetland (Project Director: December 2007 to January 2013)
Catherine Rudin (Co Project Director: December 2007 to January 2013)

Documenting Endangered Languages - Preservation
Preservation and Access

[Grant products]

$348,800 (approved)
$348,800 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2008 – 8/31/2012

Omaha and Ponca Digital Dictionary

The preparation of an online dictionary of Omaha and Ponca, mutually intelligible Siouan languages spoken in Nebraska and Oklahoma.

The project would create a comprehensive dictionary of Omaha and Ponca at a time when there are only a few dozen elderly fluent speakers. Data would be drawn from archival and published documents from nearly a dozen sources. The largest source is an unpublished word list compiled by ethnologist James Owen Dorsey in the late nineteenth century, which includes approximately 20,000 entries written in a complicated orthography. All materials would be digitized and transcribed into the contemporary orthographies used by tribal members and educators. The dictionary would be in a Structured Queried Language database that conforms to standards promulgated under the Electronic Metastructure for Endangered Languages Data. Omaha has a complex verbal morphology with the possibility of multiple affixes. All words, especially verbs, would be analyzed to determine their roots, their appropriate placement in the dictionary, and which affixed forms should be included. The dictionary would contain a brief grammatical sketch, including a description of the phonemes of the language, its major phonological and morphological patterns, and an outline of sentence structure. This project would make freely available to native communities, students, and researchers a vast collection of Omaha and Ponca language.