Chapman participates in conference to support research into Amazonian languages

Students from Spanish 396 collaborated last year in the elaboration of a trilingual Shiwilu-English-Spanish dictionary. Chapman is contributing support to a conference aimed at preserving Amazonian languages.

From April 24-28 a selective group of language experts will gather in the Peruvian capital of Lima to take part in “Amazonicas 4,” an international colloquium for the exchange of research findings on Amazonian languages co-sponsored by Chapman University. The event is organized and hosted by the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, with the support of Chapman University, the French Institute for Andean Studies (IFEA), and the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD).

“Chapman University’s support for this event is a thankful recognition for the valuable opportunities that the study of Amazonian languages makes available to our students,” said Pilar Valenzuela, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Languages, who is a member of the Scientific Committee of “Amazonicas 4” as well as one of four elected members of the Permanent Committee of Amazonicas.

Between 2007 and 2012, six Chapman students from Wilkinson College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Schmid College of Science and Technology and the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts have traveled to an indigenous Amazonian village and acquired fieldwork and research experience in the context of a NSF-funded language documentation project directed by Dr. Valenzuela.

In addition, the students in the “Introduction to Spanish Linguistics” class (SPAN 396) collaborated last year in the elaboration of a trilingual Shiwilu-English-Spanish dictionary. Shiwilu, one of only two extant members of the Kawapanan linguistic family, is spoken by a few elders in northeastern Peru, in the angle formed by the Huallaga and Marañón rivers. The dictionary represents the most important effort so far to document this severely endangered language and will provide a tool to help present and future generations of Shiwilu people preserve their ancestral identity.

More information on the event is available at the
Amazonicas 4 website

Dawn Bonker

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