The National Science Foundation has awarded a $344,690 grant to Dr. Pilar Valenzuela (World Languages and Cultures in Wilkinson College) and Robert Zariquiey for their project, Computational Tool and Corpora Development in Language with Complex Clause-marketing.

About the project:

The Amawaka are an Indigenous Amazonian people from Peru and Brazil. Their language, also called Amawaka, belongs to the Panoan Family. A pressing concern of the Amawaka people is the ongoing rapid displacement of their language by Spanish and Portuguese. Today, only in the most distant villages do children acquire it. Therefore, capturing a permanent record of Amawaka language and cultural knowledge is urgent. This project is a joint initiative brainstormed by researchers from two academic institutions in response to this grave situation: Chapman University and Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP).

The goal of this project is the documentation and description of the Amawaka language by a research team comprised of linguists (2), a computer engineer, a CU graduate student, CU undergraduate students (2), PUCP students with linguistic training (2); and members of the Amawaka speech community (4). Their work will focus on the location with the highest concentration of Amawaka families: Inuya-Mapuya rivers, in the Ucayali Region of Peru. They will collect naturalistic and elicited data in the field through audio/video recording of native speakers. The recordings, representing a wide range of speech genres, will be transcribed, translated, annotated, and interlinearized using linguistic software. The text corpus will be the basis for a grammatical description of Amawaka, dictionaries for linguists and the community (interactive and digital versions), and other multiformat language materials. In addition, this project will develop a computational resource for Amawaka; namely, a treebank for syntactic analysis. All the data and materials, with their appropriate metadata, will be stored at the Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America (AILLA) and the Digital Archive of Peruvian Languages (PUCP).

Congratulations for this wonderful award.