Au’dam Documentation

Documentation of Naturally Occurring Speech in Southwestern Tepehuan (Durango, Mexico) 

The project will make an important contribution to ongoing efforts in the field of documenting endangered languages by providing the first high quality corpus of original language documentation materials with the use of digital audio and video media resources.

More specifically, this project will put together a large body of data and detailed descriptions, bringing together interrelated phenomena through the analyses of this language and through the comparison of this language with the rest of the Uto-Aztecan languages. The data will illuminate some of the most complicated areas of Southwestern Tepehuan grammar such as the use of finite clauses instead of nominalization, an uncommon word order for a Uto-Aztecan language (VOS), among other features.

The project outcomes will not only be of interest to the field of linguistics, but also to the fields of anthropology, archaeology, history, sociolinguistics and related fields by providing oral histories and local knowledge of the Tepehuan people. This together with a deeper understanding of the language can be used to evaluate models of migration and population of northern Mexico. The detailed documentation, description and analysis of this understudied Uto-Aztecan language are fundamental to the reconstruction of proto-history and for the understanding of other Uto-Aztecan languages and non Uto-Aztecan languages. Additionally, since Tepehuan is located at a crossroads of Mesoamerica and the Southwest, this project also provides relevant information about the understanding of Mesoamerican- Southwest interactions.

Furthermore, the data will also be useful to study some social issues past and present such as language change, differences due to gender, speech style, and prestige in the community as well as degree of contact with Spanish. Since there is no study of this kind on South Tepehuan dialectology, the data will help to account for historical changes of the language and will be relevant for comparative studies.