College of Liberal Arts

NSF Award: Archiving the Terrence Kaufman Collection

Mon, May 7, 2012

RESEARCHERS: Anthony Woodbury, professor, Department of Linguistics, principal investigator; Heidi Johnson, program coordinator, Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, Patience Epps, associate professor, Department of Linguistics, co-principal investigators
AGENCY: National Science Foundation
AMOUNT: $245,752

The Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America (AILLA) at the University of Texas at Austin will catalog, digitize and archive the Terrence Kaufman Collection. Kaufman is one of the world's foremost Mesoamericanists. His career spans more than fifty years. His research includes most of the language families in a region of great linguistic, cultural, historical and archaeological importance.

The collection includes more than 100,000 pages of manuscript; 900 CDs of original recordings; 100 boxes of file slips; and 200 digital texts and databases. These materials will be digitized, converted to standard formats, and preserved in AILLA. The collection and the catalog will be available through English and Spanish web-based interfaces. Grammars, dictionaries, and collections of texts can be repurposed for language teaching at all levels. Revitalization efforts are underway for dozens of the languages documented in this collection; these materials will be a treasure trove for such efforts.

Kaufman has always promoted the participation of speakers in all aspects of language documentation. He devised practical orthographies for most of the languages of Mesoamerica that make transcriptions and other data easier for non-specialists to use. Many native-speaker graduates of his projects are now teachers, researchers or directors of institutes who can make immediate use of the resources that will be made available through this project.

For more information on AILLA, visit

Source: Office of the Vice President for Research, Research Alert (May 3, 2012)

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