Ninam

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The goal of this project is to complete and publish a dictionary of Ninam, an endangered Yanomaman language, spoken by only 560 people along the Mucajaí, upper Uraricaá, and Paragua rivers in Roraima, Brazil and Venezuela. This project completes the dictionary began by Ernesto Migliazza in the 1960s; it secures previously collected information otherwise at risk, with fieldwork to expand the information on the language and its lexical entries. Two versions will be prepared: a more technical one for scholars (with look up options in Ninam, Portuguese, Spanish, and English), and a practical version for the Ninam communities and local educators (Ninam, Portuguese, and Spanish). The language offers much of scientific interest. The dictionary will contain a grammatical sketch, with attention to unusual typological traits, of which Ninam has a number, for example, an evidentiality system, nasal harmony, serial verbs, and unusual ergativity, among others.

This dictionary will have the merits well known from other dictionaries of indigenous Latin American languages, preserving endangered knowledge systems encoded in vocabulary. The Ninam dictionary will serve linguistics and other disciplines which depend on language-related material (anthropology, history, biology, geography). The dictionary will benefit Ninam communities, addressing the need for resource materials much needed for language maintenance efforts and native-language curriculum in schools. The project provides training of graduate students in both the US and Brazil. It benefits the general public interested in cultural diversity, increasing information of cultural as well as linguistic significance. It contributes to language typology, linguistic theory, and to understanding the history of the Yanomaman languages and their speakers.

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