Sunday, May 27, 2012

Nyang'i


We'd like to introduce you to two new friends: Sam Beer (on the left) and Stephen Burger (on the right). They arrived in Kaabong this weekend on their way to Karenga where they will be staying for the next two months. Stephen is grad student in TESOL (teaching English as a second language) from Oklahoma; he hopes to do some phonetic research, possibly on Karimojong or another language spoken around Karenga. Sam, also from Oklahoma, is doctoral student in linguistics at the University of Colorado. He's here to investigate the fading Nyang'i language to see if he can capture enough to write a grammar of it.

Sam's project is special to me (Terrill) because Nyang'i is a 'sister' language to Ik. Ik, Nyang'i, and So/Tepeth are the only three members of the Kuliak family of languages. Kuliak languages are quite different from other languages in East Africa, and no one is quite sure how to classify them. Both So/Tepeth and Nyang'i are on the verge of extinction, so in a decade or two, Ik will be the only surviving member of this ancient language family. If Sam is able to document and describe Nyang'i a bit more, it will not only make a valuable contribution to linguistic science, but also to the prehistory of the peoples of this area and hopefully to the cultural pride and solidarity of the Nyang'i people. Like the other two members of the Kuliak family, the Nyang'i people have been severely oppressed by their tribal neighbors. But unlike the Ik, the Nyang'i and So/Tepeth have mostly forgotten their languages.

Sam and Stephen will be around here until late July. We wish them every success and pray that God will take their research in fruitful directions. I (Terrill), for one, am thrilled to have another 'Kuliakist' in the neighborhood! You'd have to be a linguist to understand, I guess.

2 comments:

The Reeds said...

That's so exciting to have them there! We met Sam at the Brown's two years ago. I hope you guys have fun linguistic jokes you get to laugh at all summer long. :)

Rich and Sally Hoffman said...

ŋiɲaŋíya tod ńda icétod☺☺!! How great that two scholars of the Rub languages as Terrill and Sam can work so close to each other and hopefully be able to compare notes. We’ll pray for you both, and will be excited to hear what results☺☺.