Field of Flowers (Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma, USA)


Project for the Documentation of Endangered Languages

This project is part of a set of projects for the documentation of endangered languages funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung.

The aim of the Wichita Documentation Project is to provide linguistic and cultural information about the older and modern day Wichita language and Wichita people. Wichita is a North Native American language of the Caddoan branch, spoken near Anadarko, Oklahoma, USA. It is structurally prototypical of polysynthetic languages; i.e. most of the information in an utterance is contained in bound verbal morphology (consult the Sketch of Wichita Grammar for more details). There are 2100 enrolled Wichita tribal members but only about 10 elderly people actually speak the language.

The project has two fundamental components. The dictionary part is an attempt at forming a modern, multimedia dictionary of the Wichita language which will be accessbile on a web browser and distributed in special electornic formats. The language documentation component is an attempt at archiving all the Wichita narratives and conversations that have been audio recorded by Rood (1960s-1970s), as well as generating new video and audio material that documents the present-day speakers and how the language is used now.

The technical tools and support for the Wichita project is provided by the project DOBES, at the MPI for Psycholinguistics at Nijmegen (NL).