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Pathways for accessing legacy materials in Tohono O'odham

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Title: Pathways for accessing legacy materials in Tohono O'odham
Authors: Fitzgerald, Colleen
Issue Date: 14 Mar 2009
Description: This paper reports work on two sets of legacy materials for Tohono O'odham, a Uto-Aztecan language spoken in Arizona and Sonora Mexico. Tohono O'odham speakers have declined in their numbers, with just above 8,000 speakers in 2000, suggesting a 20% decline since 1990. However, O'odham speakers and revitalization programs could benefit from linguistic resources. Author (2005) discusses a century's worth of archival holdings, covering numerous genres, most of which is unpublished. Here we look at efforts to increase access to the texts from a dialect survey in the 1980s and at efforts to create an online version the out-of-print dictionary compiled by Madeleine Mathiot in 1973. Both projects would increase accessibility of O'odham language materials. The projects bear on several issues of relevance: archiving, collaboration, representing manuscript formats in a community-friendly format, technology, and mobilization of data. The Tohono O'odham dictionary project has gone through several incarnations, mostly at the University of Arizona. Unfortunately, the Mathiot dictionary is still not online, stymied by funding shortages, software and font challenges, changes in grad student personnel, and lack of clarity regarding copyrights. We are more than halfway done with editing the text files of this dictionary, with Mathiot herself editing for presentation and to include errors not addressed in the published version. Once this version is done and online, it will be straightforward to address orthographic differences from the tribal orthography, as well as create options for self-publishing so that community members can print it. Ofelia Zepeda and Jane Hill worked with 92 elders in the 1980s collecting word-lists and texts as part of a dialect survey. These materials have been transcribed in Tohono O'odham, but are untranslated and unpublished. We are scanning the manuscripts into PDF format for preservation and creating text files, and a community member is working on translations. Preliminary versions of accessible texts have the potential to be changed in global ways, given word-processing tools. Preserving the transcripts for accuracy is the first step, which creates a foundation for community-driven revisions. This project involves community members, original researchers, and graduate and post-graduate assistants. The resulting files offer a number of ways to increase access for the tribal community, and established collaborations with the tribal college offer an avenue for successful explorations to mobilize these materials for speakers and revitalization programs.
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:1st International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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