Community Presentation of Iquito Dictionary

Earlier today, here in the Iquito community of San Antonio de Pintuyacu, Chris Beier and I presented the recently published Diccionario Iquito-Castellano to the community and distributed copies of the dictionary to all the families present. This dictionary represents an important milestone in the community-oriented documentation of Iquito, significantly expanding and improving on previous versions of the dictionary that we have presented to the community, including a general dictionary in 2006, and a Diccionario Escolar in 2019. The dictionary we presented today is based on our 2019 Iquito-English dictionary, but is an improvement on that dictionary in a number of important ways. First, it includes an extensive section on Iquito word formation, so that users can form morphologically complex words on the basis of the roots provided in each dictionary entry. A glossary of linguistic terms used in the dictionary is provided alongside. Second, this dictionary represents the low tones of headwords and roots, as well as high tones. Low tones can almost always be correctly deduced on the basis of high tones, but this requires some knowledge of the tonal system. We decided that it would be better to be explicit about the placement of low tones to improve pronunciation (a consistent concern of the Iquito elders). And third, in the process of translating the Iquito-English dictionary to Spanish (with the crucial aid of Jaime Montoya Samamé), we caught errors that had slipped through the editing process of the earlier version, and fixed them. As such, we consider the Diccionario Iquito-Castellano to be the definitive dictionary of the Iquito language at this time.

The event this morning was a lot of fun. In the first part of the event, brief speeches were given by Marcelo Inuma, the community president and former Iquito Language Documentation Project community linguist, by the two remaining fluent Iquito-speaking elders and the principal contributors to the dictionary, Jaime Pacaya Inuma end Ema Llona Yareja, and finally by Chris Beier and myself. A major theme of the speeches was the hope that this dictionary would be useful to young people in particular in learning and passing on the Iquito language.

Community president and former community linguist Marcelo Inuma Sinchija launching the community presentation of the Diccionario Iquito-Castellano
Iquito elder Jaime Pacaya Inuma, who gave speeches in both Iquito and Spanish about the history of the dictionary project and his hopes that young Iquitos would use the dictionary to learn and pass on the language
Iquito elder Ema Llona Yareja, giving a speech in Iquito about the importance of the dictionary to future generations of Iquitos

Dictionaries were then distributed to all the families present, to the festive accompaniment of panetón and gaseosa.

Iquito elder Jaime Pacaya Inuma receiving his copy of the Diccionario Iquito-Castellano
Community member Segundo Sangama receiving a copy of the Diccionary Iquito-Castellano for his family

We then had a ‘listening party’ where we played clips of recordings of songs and narratives by the four Iquito elders whose contributions have formed the base of the Iquito Language Documentation project: the late Hermenegildo Díaz Cuyasa and Ligia Inuma Inuma, as well as Jaime Pacaya Inuma and Ema Llona Yareja, who continue working with us. We also played recordings made in approximately 1960 by Roberto and Elizabeth Eastman, SIL/WBT missionaries who worked in San Antonio for some five years in the late 1950s and early 1960s. These latter recordings include songs and narratives by fondly remembered elders whose voices have in some cases not been heard in the community for 50 years.

The listening party was motivated in part by interest that community members have recently expressed in hearing the recordings we have made, as well as in having written versions of the texts to read. And the latter, in fact, is one of the major things we have bee working towards in this and recent trips to the community. Currently we are aiming to have a first set of multilingual texts to present to the community in June of this year — so stay tuned. And I also have been thinking a great deal about making audio recordings available to the community in a useful way: I plan to share my thoughts about that some time soon.

Group photo at the end of the dictionary presentation event (L-to-R): Tambo manager Piero Saldaña Dávila, Iquito elder Ema Llona Yareja, linguist Lev Michael, Iquito elder Jaime Pacaya Inuma, linguist Christine Beier, community president Marcelo Inuma Sinchija
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