A variety of language programs and projects are sponsored by the Survey itself and by Berkeley faculty and students affiliated with the Survey. Some of these activities are listed here.
The only surviving California Athabaskan language, Hupa has fewer than five first-language speakers. In recent decades, the Hoopa Valley Tribe has been actively engaged in efforts to reverse the obsolescence of their language. However, language revitalization has been hampered by several gaps in the existing documentation of the language, especially syntactic description and recordings of natural conversation. In 2008, Berkeley graduate students Amy Campbell and Lindsey Newbold were awarded a grant from the Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Documentation Programme to expand the documentary coverage of Hupa. Along with native speaker Verdena Parker and linguists Kayla Carpenter (Stanford University) and Ramon Escamilla and Justin Spence (Berkeley), they are compiling a corpus of annotated and analyzed texts from a variety of speech genres. The major outcome of this research will be a multimedia language resource, accessible via a web interface and including links to an existing online dictionary and audio and video recordings. When complete, this corpus will serve as a foundation for a description of Hupa syntax in diverse spoken contexts.
The Kampan languages are a subgroup of the Arawak family, one of the most widespread families of the Americas. Spoken where the foothills of the southern Peruvian Andes meet the Amazonian lowlands, the Kampan languages constitute one of the largest concentrations of vital indigenous languages in the Amazon Basin. Despite their vitality, however, the Kampan languages are not very well documented, and the linguistic relations among them, and the overall history of the subgroup, are poorly understood. Based on fieldwork and available published materials, the Kampan Comparative Project has compiled a significant comparative lexical database that is now being used to reconstruct aspects of Proto-Kampa, the parent language from which the modern Kampan languages descended. With the reconstruction in hand, it will be possible to determine the genetic relationships within the family, as well as identify traces of language contact among the Kampan languages, and with other language families in the area, leading to a deeper understanding of the history of this part of Amazonia.
Kawaiisu was traditionally spoken in the Tehachapi and Piute mountains in southeastern California. Today the language is severely endangered, with only a handful of fluent speakers remaining. In support of ongoing community language revitalization efforts, in 2009 the Kawaiisu Language and Cultural Center (KLCC) was awarded a grant from the Administration for Native Americans to develop a practical grammar of Kawaiisu. Berkeley alumna Jocelyn Ahlers and current graduate students Hannah Pritchett and Justin Spence will provide technical assistance for this project, collaborating with the KLCC to interpret and expand the documentation of Kawaiisu in creating user-friendly pedagogical resources for students and instructors. In addition to the grammar itself, the project will produce a set of high-quality recordings of conversational Kawaiisu and a series of lessons to help learners practice using the fine points of Kawaiisu grammar.
Muniche is a linguistic isolate of central Peruvian Amazonia that no longer has any speakers who identify themselves as fluent. There has been very little previous documentation of this language, making even partial documentation of the language an important contribution to Amazonian linguistics. During the summer of 2009, Lev Michael, Christine Beier (University of Texas at Austin), Stephanie Farmer, Greg Finley, Karina Sullón Acosta (Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos), and Michael Roswell (Swarthmore College) worked with three of the most knowledgeable rememberers of the language, Alejandrina Chanchari Icahuate, Donalia Icahuate Baneo, and Melchor Sinti Saita, to document as much of the language as possible. The team focused its efforts on compiling a dictionary, dialogue collection, and pedagogical grammatical description for use by members of the community interested in and concerned about the language, and delivered these products to the community at the end of the summer. The team is presently analyzing the data gathered during the summer to develop descriptions of the phonology, morphology, and morphosyntax of this little-known language.
Northern Paiute is spoken from Mono Lake in eastern California north and west through Nevada, Oregon, and Idaho. Our project focusses on the southernmost variety of Northern Paiute spoken around Mono Lake and to the immediate north (in Bridgeport and Coleville, California and Sweetwater, Nevada). We are collaborating with Paiute elders and younger speakers to document and describe the language. The primary goal of our project is to develop an online dictionary and an inter-connected text corpus, consisting of traditional stories, procedural texts, and personal narratives. The contents of the dictionary and corpus are continually updated, and most entries are accompanied by audio recordings. In addition to the online text corpus, we are working to produce a smaller collection of texts that can be printed and distributed to community members. This collection will be accompanied by a CD of audio recordings of the texts. Lastly, we are working on a phonetic description that lays out the sounds of the language and highlights a few of the more interesting details of the sound system.
Lev Michael is working with a group of graduate and undergraduate students to develop a grammatical description of Omagua, and to understand the social and historical circumstances under which this remarkable language arose. Once one of the largest languages of the Amazon Basin, recent work suggests that Omagua is a creole language that emerged from intense interaction between speakers of a Tupí-Guaraní language and other undetermined Amazonian indigenous languages. The Omaguas lived along the banks of upper Amazon River itself (an area that spanned much of northern Peru and eastern Brazil), and suffered tremendous loss of life and territory during the early colonial period, with the consequence that there are now fewer than ten Omagua speakers. The Omagua Documentation project has the fortune to be working with two Omagua speakers, Arnaldo Huanaquiri and Manuel Cabudiva, and is currently digitizing and analyzing a significant text corpus prepared largely by Sr. Huanaquiri (which will also be made available to the Omagua community). The project is presently developing a grammatical description and lexicon for the language, and on this basis, will attempt to better understand the genesis of this creole language by assessing the relationship of Omagua to the Tupí-Guaraní languages and the other indigenous languages of the area.
Yurok is spoken in northwestern California by a few elders and a larger number of young language learners. The Yurok Language Project combines fieldwork with Yurok elders, philological analysis of earlier fieldnotes and recordings, and active participation in language revitalization programs. We seek to develop a Yurok documentary corpus that is as comprehensive as possible and contributes as much as possible to understanding the complexities of the Yurok language. In 2005, we published a Preliminary Yurok Dictionary, compiled from all existing published sources and additional new field data; its contents are continuously revised and updated in our online lexicon. We also continue to develop a text corpus (with over 5000 sentences), electronically linked with the online lexicon, in which recordings of most sentences or texts can be heard online. Finally, we participate in regular Yurok grammar workshops during the academic year and in the annual summer Yurok Language Institute sponsored by the Yurok Tribe.