Doctoral Dissertation Research: Documentation of Diidxa za (ZAI) spatial language
Juergen Bohnemeyer Principal Investigator
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Doctoral student Randi Tucker will conduct an in-depth study of landscape features in the endangered language Diidxa za (also known as Isthmus Zapotec), a language spoken in Oaxaca, Mexico. Tucker's study will result in a database of land and water form terminology and a documentation of linguistic and cognitive practices of reference to geographic-scale and small-scale space. <br/>Tucker's study develops a new approach in studying the intersection of geography and culture, called 'ethnophysiography'. This approach seeks to document terms of reference for landscape forms and features, and the role of landscape in culture. This type of documentation can tell us more about how humans interact with their surroundings with respect to factors like agricultural sustainability.<br/>The project involves data collection in five communities to discover how the local landscape is represented in the lexicon; how route descriptions are used to explore the use of landscape entities as anchors of reference frames, and linguistic and recall data on reference frames in small-scale space. The proposed activity will test the relative efficacy of language and the non-linguistic factors of local topography, urbanization, education, bilingualism, and literacy in shaping linguistic and non-linguistic practices of spatial reference. <br/>The resulting linguistic documentation will help with the emerging language revitalization efforts for the region.