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Grant number like: PD-50009-09

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University of Florida (Gainesville, FL 32611-0001)
Brent M. Henderson (Project Director: December 2008 to November 2014)

Documenting Endangered Languages - Preservation
Preservation and Access

$185,191 (approved)
$182,138 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2009 – 4/30/2014

Funding details:
Original grant (2009) $173,095
Supplement (2010) $9,043

Documentation of Chimiini, a Bantu Language of Somalia

The preparation of a grammar, recordings, a lexicon, texts, an orthography, and a Web site on Chimiini, an endangered Bantu language formerly spoken in Somalia.

Due to Somalia's civil war in the 1990s, the vast majority of Chimiini's 20,000 speakers now live in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Kenya where the pressures of shifting to a culturally and economically dominant language like English or Swahili are intense. Because the language is not being passed on to succeeding generations, the number of Chimiini speakers will rapidly decrease over the next few decades. Yet Chimiini remains poorly documented, represented only by an academic lexicon and a handful of academic linguistics papers. The project will be carried out by collecting linguistic material from large refugee communities. The materials that will result from this project include (1) a reference grammar of Chimiini, (2) a corpus of digitally-archived recordings, (3) two collections of texts including traditional stories, proverbs, and personal histories published in English and Chimiini (one intended for linguists and one for non-linguists), (4) a basic lexicon/phrasebook, (5) a standard orthography, (6) a public Web site with multimedia content about the language and its speakers, and (7) scholarly articles on issues in theoretical linguistics. Furthermore, the collection of texts intended for non-linguists will employ the standard orthography, making it useful for literacy development among the refugee groups.