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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Mako Language: Vitality, Grammar and Classification Add Dissertation
Author: Jorge Rosés Labrada Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Western Ontario, French Studies (Linguistics)
Completed in: 2015
Linguistic Subfield(s): Historical Linguistics; Language Documentation; Typology; Genetic Classification;
Subject Language(s): Piaroa
Language Family(ies): Salivan
Director(s): David Heap
Tania Granadillo
Françoise Rose

Abstract: This dissertation focuses on the documentation and description of Mako, an indigenous language spoken in the Venezuelan Amazon by about 1,200 people and for which the only available published material at the start of this project were 38 words. The project creates a collection of annotated ethnographic texts and a grammar that could serve as a starting point for both language maintenance in the community and for further linguistic research. Additionally, the project assesses the language’s vitality in the communities where it is spoken and demonstrates the relationship of Mako to the two other extant Sáliban languages, namely Piaroa and Sáliba.

This research thus includes an assessment of language vitality in the Mako communities of the Ventuari River, a comprehensive description of the Mako language—heretofore undescribed—, and an evaluation of the genetic relationship between the three Sáliban languages. The description of the language covers a wide range of topics in areas such as phonetics and phonology, nominal and verbal morphology, and syntax of both simple and complex sentences. Discourse-level morphology and discourse-organization strategies are also covered. Aside from facilitating the study of other members of the Sáliban family and the reconstruction of the common ancestral language, the description of Mako also contributes to the typology of Amazonian languages and to our understanding of the pre-history of this area of the Orinoco basin. The products of this project also have the potential to be mobilized in language literacy efforts in the Mako communities.