Yes, people can transcribe texts in a language they don’t know

In a recent presentation at the Conference on the Indigenous Languages of Latin America, I presented the results of one of my first forays into crowdsourcing the transcription of handwritten indigenous-language manuscripts. Since the documents are handwritten and often make liberal use of special phonetic characters (and loads of combinations of diacritic marks in the …

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El zapoteco de Coatecas Altas ca. 1911

Entre los documentos archivados en la colección Franz Boas Papers en la biblioteca digital de la American Philosphical Society, está un cuaderno en que Boas apuntó los datos del pochuteco, una lengua yutoazteca con una relación muy estrecha al famoso nahuatl. Boas basó un artículo en estos datos pochutecos, y también publicó otro basado en …

A Quick Primer on Tataltepec Chatino Tone

Want to get a quick introduction to the tone system of Cháʔknyá, and don't want to read my dissertation (Sullivant, 2015)? Try this eight-page handout from a talk I gave at the University of Texas in April. Sullivant, J. Ryan. 2016. A brief overview of tone in Cháʔknyá, Tataltepec de Valdés Chatino. Ms.

Linguistic Diversity and Crop Diversity

A recent paper in the journal Heredity (Orozco Ramírez, et al., 2016. Maize diversity associated with social origin and environmental variation in Southern Mexico) studied maize populations along the border between Mixtec and Chatino groups and found that the cultural divide between Mixtecs and Chatinos was also reflected in a genetic divide in their maize …

Why POM reconstruction is hard

The phonological and grammatical accidents of Otomanguean linguistic history which complicate the reconstruction of parent and child terms include stem-initial consonant alternations which involve a large inventory of consonants, several of which occur in more than one set, as well as the backing and raising of vowels in a simple four-vowel system under certain conditions only …

The Sacred Mushroom

When I was looking for any stray mentions of the Chatino people (and found that vintage photo of Upson and Upson with their children) I found something even more interesting: a TV programming announcement for an episode of an anthology series about the paranormal that was set in Chatinoland. A 1961 episode of One Step Beyond called "The …