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Saving a Dying Language
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The Journal

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Friday, August 30

I had a chance to visit with Chris and Lev earlier this week to catch up on everything that happened in San Antonio after our departure.

The linguistas continued to improve their teaching skills and worked out a schedule for Hilter to conduct the adult classes, with Miroslova and Arturo taking on the children’s classes. Chris and Lev were very pleased to report that the children’s class was still drawing nearly 40 students each session.

The team did change their direction slightly. Rather than focusing on the dictionary, they decided to spend most of their time transcribing texts of stories. Mark continued to work with the linguistas on the computer and he wrote two handbooks on how to use the programs. The team felt that with these added computer skills, the dictionary was something they could leave in the hands of the linguistas to work on throughout the year.

Chris pointed out that one of the reasons they decided to have the linguistas work on the dictionary was that it built a certain level of accountability into the project. She added that this gives the team specific goals and a schedule providing them with a sense of accomplishment.

The students also worked out a way to monitor the progress of the program from Austin. As the linguistas add to the dictionary, they will back up their work on disks that will then be taken to Iquitos each month when they pick up their pay. Gabel Sotil has agreed to e-mail the files to Austin so the students can continue their work on the language documentation project from here.

Lev made a full recovery from malaria, and no one else in the group came down with it. The team only had two weeks between returning from Peru and starting classes back on campus, and it sounds like they took advantage of the time. Mark and Lynda each did some traveling for pleasure, while Chris and Lev took the time to visit with family and, as they put it, catch up on rest and good food.

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