TALK: Directional Reference in Ahtna: Endangered Language, Endangered Geographic Knowledge

Andrea L Berez (Linguistics, UCSB)
Thursday, May 26, 2011 / 3:30 PM
Girvetz 2115

This presentation discusses aspects of the directional system in Ahtna, a severely endangered Athabaskan (Native American) language spoken in south central Alaska. The semantic basis of the Ahtna directional system is traditionally riverine, based on the flow of the local river, but intense contact with English is causing the system to shift to a cardinal basis resembling that of English. Linguistic evidence is presented from both a genre of traditional Ahtna oration known as travel narration, and from the ten months of fieldwork by the author with elderly speakers of Ahtna in Alaska.

Sponsored by the UC Graduate Fellow in the Humanities Grant and the Geographies of Place series.

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