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Charles R. Hale, Director SRH 1.310, 2300 Red River Street D0800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512.471.5551

About CILLA

The Center for Indigenous Languages of Latin America (CILLA), a constituent of the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, has been established to contribute to knowledge about the indigenous languages of Latin America, to promote their maintenance, and to coordinate teaching programs in and about indigenous languages. These languages are an important part of the societies and cultures of Latin America and are spoken by millions of people, sometimes as national languages. There are hundreds of different languages ranging in size from tiny, with only a few hundred speakers, to very large, with up to ten million speakers (Quechua), and they belong to dozens of separate language families. This diversity is of incalculable scientific and humanistic importance both to the world at large and to speakers who, in many cases, are struggling to preserve their languages in a world context where linguistic and cultural diversity is suffering mass extinction.

The status of indigenous languages has also become a primary concern in the context of the democratic transitions that are occurring in Latin America. In many countries, indigenous communities are contributing to ongoing processes of the rethinking of states, national cultures, school systems, court systems, and the meaning of citizenship. The issue of language rights and recovery stands at the very center of these processes. Furthermore, the use of indigenous languages by their speakers in ever wider contexts in contemporary society is directed toward reshaping Latin American culture and politics. The Center hopes to help indigenous communities realize their goals of language recovery and widening the contexts of language use by providing technical education in fields related to language, with an emphasis on language maintenance, documentation, and applications to social institutions that depend on language and communication among all citizens.

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