Barupu grammar and lexicography
Miriam Corris, University of Sydney
Individual Graduate Studentship. Duration: 2003-2005. £13,547
Ms Corris aims to complete her doctoral dissertation; a descriptive grammar of Barupu, including glossed texts and a word list. Barupu is a previously undescribed non-Austronesian language, spoken by about 2,000 people on the north coast of Papua New Guinea.
The project will also assist in the preparation, printing and dissemination of a mostly community-written trilingual dictionary and other written materials. These materials are for use in the village elementary school which is beginning to teach initial literacy skills in Barupu language, in line with recent New Guinea government policy.
There is a strong sense of urgency among Barupu speakers about this work. In 1998 the population of the village was almost halved by a tsunami. Many of the people who died were elderly and one result of this is that speakers feel very strongly about preserving, and, in some cases, resurrecting, old linguistic and cultural knowledge. The dictionary is especially important in that it serves a double purpose; it preserves older cultural and linguistic information for future generations, and supports the use of the language now.