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Audio and Video Recordings of Chorote, Nivaklé (Chulupí), and Maká, languages of Southern Chaco


Language Chorote, Nivaclé, Kadiweu
Depositor Lyle Campbell, Veronica Grondona
Affiliation Department of Linguistics, University of Hawaii
Location Bolivia
Collection ID 0212
Grant ID MDP0048
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle


Summary of the collection

This collection is the result of a three-year documentation project of Chorote, Nivaclé and Kadiwéu, three poorly known endangered languages of southern Chaco (South America). Three specific needs guide the research in this project: the need for documentation, not only in printed form but also audio and audiovisual; the need for comparative and historical studies of the Matacoan and Guaycuruan languages; and the need for revitalisation efforts.

The project includes the publication of two dictionaries, one for linguists and one for the indigenous communities and non-linguists; the publication of two collections of texts, one for linguists, another for the indigenous communities and non-linguists; the publication of two basic reference grammars, one in Spanish or Portuguese, the other in English; a website; a web-accessible lexical database with grammatical notes; and a corpus of catalogued recordings to be archived and made accessible to a wider audience. Additionally, it includes a culturally and geographically appropriate questionnaire for native languages of the Chaco region designed and made available for linguists interested in the languages of the area.


Group represented

This collection represents members of the Chorote, Nivaclé and Kadiwéu communities.

There are approximately 1,500 speakers of Kadiwéu (all in Brazil), 2,000 speakers of Chorote (500 in Paraguay, 1,500 in Argentina), and approximately 20,000 speakers of Nivaclé (between 200 and 1,200 in northern Argentina, c. 18,000 in Paraguay). All three languages are currently endangered; despite its relatively large number of speakers, Nivaclé is severely threatened by the rapid encroachment of Spanish, even in Paraguay; and the Argentinian dialect is almost extinct.

All three of the languages to be addressed in this project still remain the primary means of communication among close associates and family members within the indigenous communities, but for communication with outsiders, Spanish or Portuguese are used. Of the 15 languages spoken in the Chaco, these three are clearly the most endangered, with few speakers (in most cases spread across numerous small communities) and increased contact with the mainstream Spanish and Portuguese speaking societies; it is likely that the languages will become extinct within the next generation or two.

While there are incipient educational programs in some Chaco indigenous communities and some interest in revitalization effort in others, next to nothing is currently being done in the communities where these three languages are spoken. These languages are written using Spanish-based orthographies which are not standardized, and literacy materials are lacking. The results of this research will provide community members with the foundations for developing bilingual education and revitalization programs, and for standardizing their writing systems to meet the needs of the languages. In addition, the published written material is expected to contribute to providing prestige to the language, and therefore improve the attitudes of their speakers towards their own language, a factor that is important in language maintenance.


Collection contents

When completed, this collection will include three sub collections, one each for Chorote, Nivaclé and Kadiwéu. Each sub collection will contain the following resources:

  • a corpus of audiovisual recordings of elicitation sessions and of naturally occurring speech (narratives, including oral history, traditional tales, etc., and some dialogue), including transcription and analysis of these data
  • two dictionaries
    • one for linguists (Indian language, English and Spanish)
    • one for non-linguists (Indian language and Spanish or Portuguese)
  • two versions of a basic reference grammar, one for linguists (in English) and one for non-linguists (in Spanish or Portuguese)
  • two collections of morphologically analyzed texts, one for linguists and one for non-linguists
  • a website with linguistic and cultural information about the language and its speakers
  • an online database with a lexicon and grammatical notes and analysis

In addition, the collection will include a culturally and geographically appropriate questionnaire for research with Indian languages of the Chaco region as well as conference papers and journal articles.


Special characteristics 

Verónica Grondona and Filomena Sandalo, two of the researchers who have worked on this collection, have local origins and very good knowledge of communities in the area. Both of them have worked extensively with languages of Chaco, particularly Guaycuruan languages and have published preliminary work on the history of the Guaycuruan family (Ceria (now Grondona) and Sandalo 1995).


Collection history

The materials in this collection were gathered and prepared between 2003 and 2006 during research for the Major Documentation Grant awarded to Veronica Grondona by ELDP.
The team consisted of three researchers, each concentrating on one language: Lyle Campbell worked on Chorote, Filomena Sandalo worked on Kadiwéu, and Verónica Grondona worked on Nivaclé.


Other information

The materials in this collection will also be archived with the Archive of Indigenous Languages of Latin America (AILLA). For the printed materials, The University of Buenos Aires has expressed a possible interest in publishing versions in Spanish intended for the community members and local linguists.


Acknowledgement and citation

To refer to any data from the collection, please cite as follows:

Campbell, Lyle, Verónica Grondona & Filomena Sandalo. 2013. Audio and Video Recordings of Chorote, Nivaclé (Chulupí), and Maká, languages of Southern Chaco. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

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