Past grant

Documentation of the Washo Language

(National Science Foundation Grant #0553675)

The Washo language, one of the most critically endangered and poorly documented of languages of North America, is now only used by a few elderly speakers who live in several townships near the California Nevada border southeast of Lake Tahoe. Washo is only minimally documented, with no comprehensive grammar or dictionary, except for William Jacobsen’s 1964 doctoral dissertation from the University of California, Berkeley, which contains mainly a phonological and morphosyntactic description of the language. The main objective of this project is a detailed study of the phonetics and phonology (at both the allophonic and morpho-phonological levels) of the Washo language since a solid understanding of the phonetics and phonology of the language is paramount to understanding the other components of the language (e.g., the morpho-syntax, syntax, and discourse). Another priority for this project is the creation of a web-accessible digital archive to make Washo data accessible to scholars and, of equal or greater importance, to the native community itself.

Selected Papers:

  • Yu, Alan C. L. To appear. Laryngeal schizophrenia in Washo. In Gene Buckley and Jeff Good (eds.).
  • Ryan Bochnak, Timothy Grinsell, and Alan C. L. Yu. 2011. Copula agreement and the stage-level/individual-level distinction in Washo. In Meagan Louie & Alexis Black (eds.), The UBC Working Papers in Linguistics: Proceedings of the 16th Workshop on the Structure and Constituency in the Languages of the Americas. 1-10. (PDF)
  • Yu, Alan C. L. 2008. The phonetics of quantity alternation in Washo. Journal of Phonetics 36(3): 508-520.
  • Yu, Alan C. L. 2006. Prosodically-conditioned segmental fission in Washo. In Rebecca Cover & Yumi Kim (eds.) The Proceedings of the 31st Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society. 513-524.
  • Yu, Alan C. L. 2005 Quantity, stress, and reduplication in Washo. Phonology 22(3): 437-475.

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