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

Spring 2005


Unique Days Time Location Instructor
37960 MWF
10:00 AM-11:00 AM

Course Description

Why are more than half the world's languages dying? Why does it matter? What does it mean for a community or for the rest of us? And is there anything they can do about it? This course focuses on endangered languages and language documentation from linguistic and community perspectives. The first part surveys why languages die and what this means for the communities and for linguistics. The second part focuses on the documentation of the instructor's own first language, Q'anjob'al, a Mayan language spoken in Guatemala. Students will learn basic tools for documenting languages and apply them to data the instructor (as informant) provides on Q'anjob'al--something you can learn to do even if you have no background whatsoever about the language, and even if you think you are not at all a talented language learner. The third and last part explores how language documentation and preservation are being carried out by speakers of Mayan languages in Guatemala and by others around the world. The course will give students a general picture of endangered languages and an opportunity to experience a Mayan language.

Grading Policy

Writing assignments: 60% Other homework: 20% Class participation: 20% The course has a "Substantial Writing Component." You have to write short essays responding to both readings and your findings during the documentation of Q'anjob'al. We start with short essays and end with a more developed paper. This is to give you practice at writing. Your papers will be graded and corrected based on their quality and improvement.


Selected reading will be places on the reserve shelf in the Hill Library photocopy room (CAL 513).


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