Graduate Student Documenting Endangered Language

   Our MA student Jahnavi Narkar attended a training program in linguistic fieldwork and language documentation in June and July 2019. This program was funded by a grant from the Documenting Endangered Language Program (DEL) of the National Science Foundation to the University of Delaware and was conducted in collaboration with the Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia and  the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa (ILCAA),  an affiliate of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS). 

   She, with three other graduate students from the United States, spent the first few days in Jakarta where they received basic Indonesian lessons. A graduate student from Atma Jaya Catholic University also showed them around the city. Then they flew to the city of Kupang where they were each paired with two Indonesian undergraduate students who had some knowledge of the languages they would be documenting and received pre-fieldwork training. Jahnavi’s team consisted of Darius Dalu Niron and Fransiska Tuto Sili.
   They then went to an island called Adonara in the Flores Regency of Indonesia to study and document the language spoken there. They met with the chief of the village to ask for his permission to work in the area. The chief agreed and nicknamed Jahnavi “Hidung Manchung” meaning “pointed nose.” Over the next three weeks, Hidung Manchung, Fransiska and Darius recorded 24 native speakers of Adonara from ages 12 to 95. They also took trips to the nearby beaches and went hiking into the mountains. Since Jahnavi was the first foreigner to ever visit the village of Karing Lamalouk, the end of their trip was celebrated with a traditional song and dance called Soley.
   The team then headed back to Kupang where they worked on preparing the data for archiving. This data will be available for use by linguists, language activists and the general public through PARADISEC (Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures). Jahnavi hopes that her work in Indonesia will encourage Fransiska and Darius to document their respective languages and work towards revitalizing other indigenous languages of the area. She intends to continue her work on Adonara and return to Flores in the future. She will be presenting her research at a capstone workshop to be held at one of the participating universities in Spring 2020.
  A traditional house in the village of Karing Lamalouk

A traditional house in the village of Karing Lamalouk

Jahnavi recording a participant’s speech sample

Left to Right: Jahnavi, Soley dancer Bapak Dei, Fransiska


The team with their host family

Left to Right: Kak Valen, Kak Tin, Caca, Fransiska, Jahnavi, Darius

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Graduate Student Documenting Endangered Language 10/29/2019
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