(August 2010) The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have granted SIL linguist Stephen Marlett, Ph.D., a 12-month fellowship. This project will undertake a broad and multifaceted documentation and description of the Me’phaa genus (Otomanguean family, Guerrero, Mexico). It will produce digital recordings—both video and audio—vocabulary, grammar and texts. These will provide the basis for on-going language development and linguistic study.
Meꞌphaa speakers participate in a language development workshop
Meꞌphaa (previously known as Tlapanec) is a language genus that is part of the more increasingly known and documented Otomanguean language family. The Meꞌphaa branch of Otomanguean—like other languages of Mexico—is under stress from sociological factors that put it at risk. Contemporary language shift is in process, both from Meꞌphaa to Spanish and from one dialect of Meꞌphaa to another. The Meꞌphaa genus has many interesting features that are still relatively unknown and insufficiently documented.
Besides giving an important contribution to the linguistic community, this more complete documentation of Meꞌphaa will be an important contribution to the Meꞌphaa community since parts of the documentation materials will be available in both Spanish and English.
The project publications and public presentations in Mexico will be an important link for three communities in particular:
- Meꞌphaa teachers and writers who will be given new resources
- New researchers (from various disciplines) who will receive a clearer understanding of the language and its special features
- The general public in Mexico which is not well-informed about the Meꞌphaa language