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Yoram Meroz
Unaffiliated Independent Scholar
Salvage Documentation of Yahgan

This project aims at providing the first modern and comprehensive documentation of Yahgan, an isolate language of Chilean Tierra de Fuego. The language is nearly extinct, with only one elderly speaker, out of an ethnic population of 100. Yahgan is typologically unusual for South America, with no clear typological affinities to either the Amazonian languages or those of the Pacific coast. Over the past century, the Yahgan language has nearly ceased to be spoken. For much of that period, no research on the language was carried out. The bulk of existing work on Yahgan is formed by the dictionary, the grammatical notes, and the biblical translations of the 19th century missionary Thomas Bridges. During the fellowship year, I will conduct fieldwork in Puerto Williams, Chile, building on my previous fieldwork in 2007-08. I will complete a summary grammar to serve as a base for a later, more comprehensive grammar, re-edit Bridges's dictionary of the language and produce transcribed textual material. These will serve as a basis for learner's materials to be provided for the Yahgan community. (Edited by staff)

[Grant products]

Project fields:

Dynamic Language Infrastructure-Documenting Endangered Languages - Fellowships

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2010 – 11/30/2011