Mason’s collection

Comparing sixty-three years of history: the Tepehuan case (Mason 1948, Garcia 2011)

The main goal of this project, to begin in August 2013, is to compare Mason’s documentation of Tepecano, North Tepehuan, and Southeastern Tepehuan, dating from the 1940’s, with my own research on Southeastern Tepehuan (SET), a more recent contribution to the field of endangered language documentation. Thanks to awards from the National Science Foundation and the organization for Documenting Endangered Languages, as well as the Endangered Language Fund, I have completed ten months of fieldwork in the mountainous region of Durango, Mexico (2010-2011), collecting a unique corpus of high quality documentation materials using different media resources (e.g., audio, video, and written). Specifically, I compiled twenty-seven hours of naturally occurring speech in SET (e.g., life stories, recipes, songs, casual and formal conversations, advice, ritual and religious speech such as prayers, and descriptions of the community’s political and social organization).

During my staying at the American Philosophical Society Library, I will use the Mason collection there to analyze the similarities and differences found for the Tepehuan language over a period of sixty-three years. First, with the help of a native speaker of Southeastern Tepehuan, I will provide an accurate transcription of the four tapes stored at the Library (1 hr, 10 min., Southeastern Tepehuan recording). Because the documentation conventions over the past decades have changed, during the second stage, I will provide multi-tier annotations and morpheme-to-morpheme notes to make Mason’s earlier SET documentation comparable to recent descriptions of SET. Comparing Mason’s collection (1948, 1951) with my recent database (Garcia 2010-2011) will allow us to establish evolutionary relationships in the language of speakers separated by more than half a century.