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Documentation Summits in the Central Mountains of Papua

(DoBeS, 10/2011 - 12/2016)

The major aim of the Summits project, a cooperative project between the CELD in Manokwari and the Linguistics Department at the University of Cologne, is to improve on and extend the documentation of a group of culturally and linguistically interlinked languages in the Central Highlands of Indonesian Papua. We strive to achieve this in three ways:
The first component of the project consists of processing already collected data of the two Mek languages Eipo and Yale. Eipo and its neighbouring language Yale have been studied thoroughly by Volker Heeschen for several decades. The original audio recordings that were made during his field stays in the 1970s and 80s will be digitalized within the Summits project and will be made available via the Language Archive of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen. Furthermore, the existing data will be complemented by new recordings in order to cover a broader range of communicative events.
The second component of the Summits project consists of the documentation of Pass Valley Yali, a Dani language spoken by approximately 5000 people (Ethnologue 2009) in the highland area east of Angguruk. The data collected within this project will be from the district of Apahapsili, mainly recorded in the villages of Apahapsili, and Masahangguli, and their surrounding hamlets. While a Bible translation has been published and some linguistic work by German missionaries who have been working in this area since the 1960s exists (e.g. Zöllner “Verbformen der Angguruk-Sprache”, unpublished manuscript), the major aim of the Summits project will be to compile a corpus of naturally spoken language, focussing especially on informal everyday conversations and other spontaneous communicative events. Just like in the Eipo-/Yale-component of this project, we thus aim to build upon existing works, systematically complementing older data with new material in order to gain a comprehensive documentation of the Yali language.
Thirdly, in cooperation with colleagues at UNIPA, an extensive capacity building program in descriptive and documentary linguistics is being organized for local students and staff members at the University of Manokwari, West Papua. Having attended this program, students will be encouraged to carry out their own documentation projects, in which they will document their native languages. During these closely supervised projects they will be funded by scholarships that will cover their expenses during their field stays as well as tuition fees and living costs during their last semester when they write their B.A. thesis. The collected data will be processed according to DoBeS standards and archived in the Language Archive in Nijmegen. By offering local students the opportunity to deepen their knowledge in linguistics and field work methods, and by providing them with the technical equipment of modern language documentation, a contribution is made to building a sustainable basis for the documentation of endangered languages in Indonesian Papua, the main mission of the CELD.