Missouri researcher honored for endangered language preservation


N. Louanna Furbeee, a professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, has been honored for her lifetime service to linguistics and the preservation of endangered languages.

According to a university press release, "Furbee's research focuses primarily on the study and preservation of Tojolab'al, a Mayan language spoken in the Chiapas region of Mexico, and Chiwere, a Siouan language spoken by the Otoe-Missouria and Iowa Tribes in the U.S. Both languages are rapidly becoming extinct as elderly speakers die without passing the language on to younger generations. Furbee has worked closely with members of the tribes who speak these languages to develop an understanding of the languages' grammars, to archive and translate materials in the languages, and to train native speakers in language documentation so that they can carry on the study of the languages and develop courses and materials to teach others. She also has written a grammar (a description of the language's grammatical structure), a dictionary and a concordance of texts for Tojolab'al."

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