Learning the language of Caribou

Frank, Crystal
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As one of the youngest speakers of our endangered Gwich’in language, I joined an NSF-sponsored documentation project to develop my reading, writing, and listening skills. Although I grew up hearing the language from my parents every day, I discovered that very few of my peers could speak the language with me. In my work transcribing the field recordings of Gwich’in elders, I’ve noticed many little differences in the way speakers from the same communities talk. In my presentation I will illustrate some of these idiolects and talk about their significance for those of us trying to become more fluent speakers. Growing up as a girl and young woman, I never realized that the specialized corpus of Gwich’in words about caribou anatomy largely escaped me because my father did all the hunting and butchering. By collaborating with him I've now acquired many more new nouns and verbs about hunting and caribou biology.
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