August 2, 2008
I arrived back in Lima a few days ago, which means that I have been meeting with colleagues and friends in the short time that remains before I return to the US. One of more interesting meetings was with Karina Sullón, a young Peruvian linguist whom I came to know through her participation in the Iquito Language Documentation Project. Karina returned recently from an exploratory trip to the community of Munichis, near the town of Yurimaguas, where the last speakers of Muniche live.
The purpose of Karina’s visit, for which I helped obtain funding, was to determine if a project aimed at the documentation of Muniche would be feasible. The only significant documentation of the language to date is Gibson (1996) (available here), which provides a description of the phonology and morphology of the language, and a small lexicon. The last fluent speaker of the language died in the late 1990s, but Karina found several ‘rusty’ speakers who retain significant knowledge of the language. In the course of a week’s work with these speakers, Karina determined that lexical, morphological, and basic syntactic work was feasible with these speakers. Given the modest documentation available on this language, a limited documentation project seems worth the effort, and Karina will be returning soon for a month of documentation work. I am very much looking forward to seeing the results of Karina’s work.
Gibson, Michael L. 1996. El Munichi: Un idioma que se extingue. Serie Lingüística Peruana, 42. Pucallpa: Instituto Lingüístico de Verano.