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Documenting Ramari Hatohobei, the Tobian language, a severely endangered Micronesian language

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Language Tobian (Ramari Hatohobei)
Depositor Peter Black, Barbara Black
Affiliation Friends of Tobi Island
Location Palau
Deposit ID 0295
Grant ID SG0242
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2196/64bb8850-a53d-42b4-b162-23091d844831

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Project Profile: Documenting Ramari Hatohobei, the Tobian language, a severely endangered Micronesian language 

Summary of the deposit

Tobian (Ramari Hatohobei) is the language of Tobi, one of the Southwest Islands of the Republic of Palau, a Micronesian nation in the western Pacific. Severely endangered, Tobian is currently spoken by approximately 150 people. Tobian and the dialects of Sonsorol, Merir, and Pulo Anna, the other three Southwest Islands, are closely related to the languages spoken in the outer islands of Yap and Chuuk. Intensive work was done with elderly Tobian speakers to document their language through collection of vocabulary, stories, poems, and songs in their relevant socio-cultural context before it is lost.

 

Group represented

The people of Hatohobei

 

Language information

Tobian is a nuclear Micronesian language belonging to the Oceanic subgroup of the Austronesian language family.

 

Deposit contents

We recorded videos of stories, songs, prayers, a poem, histories, meetings, and Bible readings. We also recorded discussions of fishing techniques, canoe building, taro gardening, basket making, medicines and sickness, and other topics.

In the near future we hope to add to this deposit a dictionary database of over 2000 words, many with audio clips of Tobian speakers pronouncing them, as well as illustrations and references to more complete material. We will also add other videos, photographs, and sound recordings made over the last 40 years.

 

Deposit history

The goal of this project was to provide a resource base of well-documented Tobian language use. This resource base, intended for the use of the Tobian community now and in the future as well as for use by linguists, consists primarily of video records of people speaking Tobian in various contexts and covering various topics. This small grant awarded by ELDP supported a year’s work in 2013-2014. Three month-long research trips to Palau were separated by time processing and analyzing material collected in the field and preparing for the next trip.

Over the course of the project year, we worked with and recorded 31 Tobian speakers, more than 50 percent of the adult speakers of the language living in Palau.

 

Acknowledgement and citation

HOPE Hatohobei Organization for People and the Environment, a local NGO, served as our host organization and provided administrative and other support throughout the project year.

We wish to thank the people of Tobi who enthusiastically supported this project.

For further information about Tobi Island and its people and language, visit the Friends of Tobi Island website at http://www.friendsoftobi.org.

Users of any part of the collection should acknowledge Peter W. Black and Barbara W. Black as the data collectors and researchers. Users should also acknowledge the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme as the funder of the project. Individual speakers whose words and/or images are used should be acknowledged by name. All information on contributors is available in the metadata.

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

Black, Peter W. & Barbara W. Black. 2014. Documenting Ramari Hatohobei, the Tobian language, a severely endangered Micronesian language. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/2196/00-0000-0000-0002-EB3B-F. Accessed on [insert date here].

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