|E-MELD has used data from more than 10 endangered languages for the School of Best Practice, and the following are brief descriptions of these languages:|
Biao Min is a Mienic language of southern China from the Hmong-Mien family. It is spoken by a rapidly shrinking population of approximately 21,000 speakers, most of whom are bilingual with the dominant language. It is an isolating language, and the morphology is minimal, consisting only of a dual/plural distinction in personal pronouns, complex serial verb constructions, and a set of numeral classifiers. Its phonology, however, is very complex: there are 6 distinctive tones, which show contrasts with both pitch and phonation types. The data consist of lexical lists and texts, as well as extensive annotations on cognates in other Hmong-Mien languages, and even on the Proto-Hmongic forms to which they correspond. Where a word is a loanword from Chinese, the Chinese character is also provided, thus allowing us to test the database's multinational character display. Apart from passing mentions in Chinese, there is only 1 extant descriptive article about Biao Min, written by our data-provider, Prof. David Solnit of the Sino-Tibetan Etymological Dictionary and Thesaurus project at the University of California at Berkeley.
Mocoví is a Guaicuruan language from northern Argentina, with between 4000 and 7000 speakers. It is an active/inactive language with complex person-marking, a very rich morphology and a rich deictic system. The Mocoví material is composed of texts interlinearized by hand, a dictionary of lexical items with a Spanish gloss, an English gloss, and a morpheme-by-morpheme breakdown and gloss. There are example sentences for each item, and comments by the researcher, Prof. Veronica Grondona, who has also agreed to be a data consultant on the E-MELD project. There are approximately 3000 lexical items in the database, and about 300 sentences in the collected texts. There are also 8 interlinearized texts, each taking about 5 minutes of recording time. Apart from Prof. Grondona's unpublished dissertation, this work is the only description of Mocoví in existence.
Potawatomi is an Algonquian language spoken in North America. It belongs to the Central branch, and is closely related to Ojibwe, although its vocabulary has been significantly affected by contact with speakers of Sauk. In the historical period, Potawatomi speakers occupied the territory surrounding Lake Michigan in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and the lower penninsula of Michigan. However, due to the U.S. Government policy of removal in the nineteenth century, there are today diasporic Potawatomi communities throughout the midwestern United States and adjacent Ontario, Canada. The Potawatomi descriptive materials provided here include a searchable lexicon, grammatical sketch, and example texts. These materials are previously unpublished, and are the result of collaboration between linguists, fluent Potawatomi speakers, and Potawatomi communities for over half a century. There is also extensive grammatical and lexical documentation from the missionary period. A bibliography of these and other Potawatomi language materials is available here. Today, Potawatomi is critically endangered with less than 50 fluent speakers. Speakers are elderly, and bilingual in English. There are several language revitalization projects underway, and most communities have established language and culture programs. The materials presented here are intended to be a contribution to these efforts.
Ega is the most western of the Kwa languages, and an isolate in the Nyo cluster. Ega is spoken by approximately 300 people in Ivory Coast, and is of particular scientific interest because its highly conservative features promise new insights into the history of the Niger-Congo languages. Funding for the documentation of Ega comes from the Volkswagen Foundation in Germany. The principal investigators, Dafydd Gibbon (Bielefeld), Bruce Connell (Oxford), and Firmin Ahoua (Cocody), have agreed to make their primary materials (including a lexicon, audio recordings, and interlinear texts) available to the LDC for conversion and archiving.
Monguor is a Southeastern Mongolic language spoken in the People's Republic of China in the Qinghai province (primarily Huzhu, Datong, Ledu, Minhe, & Tongren counties) and the Gansu province (primarily Tianzhu county, and also Dahejia county). The Monguor population identified as 'Tu', has a population of 163,800 (1996 Qinghai Statistical Yearbook) with approximately 42,000 Monguor speakers. Within what we here term "Monguor" four main language varieties can be identified: Huzhu, Minhe, Niandhu/Baoan, and Wutun. The latter two are highly divergent language communities in three Tongren county townships. Wutun has aroused a good deal of interest in recent Creole and language contact research, with Chinese, Mongguor, and Tibetan strata. Variation between the four varieties is also due to the intensity of language contact, especially with Tibetan. Tianzhu and Datong Monguor appear to be subvarieties of Huzhu Monguor.
Tofa belongs to the northern (or north-eastern) branch of the Turkic family and to the Sayan areal group (Comrie 1981). It shows considerable Mongolian influence and substrate effects of an earlier, now extinct language, probably of the Yeniseyan family (Janhunen 1993). During an initial field visit in 1998, David Harrison collected new Tofa data and confirmed facts reported by Rassadin (1971, 1983), the only linguistic study of Tofa. The new material will put us on the path to an adequate grammar of Tofa, for which existing documentation is completely insufficient. Since the new documentation will include the video signal, we will be able to use this language as a test case for aligning video with the transcriptions and audio on the web-accessible database system being proposed.
Sáliba, also known as Sáliva, is a Salivan language spoken in Eastern Colombia on the border of Venezuela. According to a 1993 census, there are approximately 1,555 speakers of the language remaining. However, the younger generation is generally not learning the language, which puts the Sáliba language in a precarious position.
Kayardild, also known as Kaiadilt, Gayardilt, Gayardild and Guyadilt, is a non-Pama-Nyungan language of the Tangkic family. It was originally spoken on Bentinck Island, in the Gulf of Carpenteria in northwest Queensland, Australia, although now many of the remaining 10 speakers live on Mornington Island.
Dena'ina is an Athabascan language spoken in the region of upper Cook Inlet, Alaska.Like many Athabascan languages, Dena'ina is severely endangered. Although speaker counts vary, some sources report that there are fewer than 75 speakers of Dena'ina left. One of its 4 dialects is already extinct; and Mithun (2001: 348) notes that of the remaining 3 dialects, one has fewer than 20 speakers and the other 2 have no speakers under 60 years of age. However, a number of vigorous community-led revitalization efforts have arisen in recent years, offering hope that this unique Athabascan language can be preserved and renewed in the 21st century.
Western Sisaala is a previously undocumented language of approximately 6,000 speakers in Ghana's remote Upper West Region. It is spoken in Lambussie and surrounding villages, and belongs to the Southern Grusi branch of the Gur language family of the Niger-Congo phylum.
Navajo, also known as Diné and Navaho, belongs to the Apachean Language Group of the Athapaskan language family. About 170,000 Navajos speak their language in the Southwest (in the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah) of the United States, with about 7,616 monolinguals (according to the 1990 census). Although of Navajo has the largest number of speakers of all indigenous languages in North America north of Mexico, and the number increases each year, the number of nonspeakers within the Navajo Nation is increasing at a proportionally greater rate. With the most prominent characteristic of endangered languages being a significant decrease in first language acquisition, Navajo may be considered endangered as its use is declining among the Navajo youth, with 30% first-language speakers among first graders in 1998 versus 90% in 1968.