IATH Fellow Lise Dobrin, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at UVA, has been awarded $13,289 through a special “Chairman’s grant” from the NEH to support her ongoing research documenting and preserving endangered languages. Her research project, the Arapesh Grammar and Digital Language Archive, focuses on the Arapesh languages of Papua New Guinea, which are rapidly being replaced by English and Tok Pisin, a creole language that emerged from the intermixing of Pacific island languages and colonial influences.
The grant covers Prof. Dobrin’s collaboration with Robert Conrad, a retired missionary linguist who worked in the Arapesh region for several decades. Conrad collected dozens of Bukiyip Arapesh texts and had them transcribed by native speakers. Dr. Dobrin is now working with Conrad to annotate and translate the texts, so that they will be accessible and useful to both future researchers and Arapesh people. The texts will be incorporated into the archive with the help of Amanda Sweeny (CLAS 2013, Linguistics), who has been working with Prof. Dobrin on the project since 2011.