Defaka and Nkoroo
About the Documentation Project
Goals & Aims
Our goal is to produce a comprehensive documentation and description of Defaka [AFN] and Nkoroo [NKX], two languages spoken in the Niger Delta. Both of these languages are endangered: they are spoken in only a few villages, in an area where the dominant languages are English & Nigerian Pidgin (as well as Igbo, to a lesser extent).
The project has 3 components: Fieldwork, Documentation & Archiving, and Analysis & Description.
The goal of our fieldwork is the collection of wordlists and a large body of texts (in the form of stories, songs, natural conversation, and monologues). These texts are crucial, as they not only illustrate the grammar of each language, but also provide invaluable information about the linguistic & cultural traditions of the Defaka & Nkoroo people. We are also conducting a sociolinguistic survey to assess the linguistic situation in the area, and the risk of extinction each language faces. We hope to minimize this risk by raining local linguists and native speakers in techniques of language documentation.
The documentation and archiving stage is being carried out at Rutgers University & York University. This part of the project includes archiving audio recordings, and transcribing, glossing, and archiving the texts collected. Ultimately, all of these materials will be freely available in a new language archive, stored according to the 'best practices' recommended by E-MELD.
- Description & Analysis
The analysis & description stage is being done primarily at the University of Port Harcourt, by members of the documentation team affiliated there. This part of the project involves creating a) descriptive grammars of both Defaka & Nkoroo, b) Examination of morphology, syntax, and lexicon of the languages, based on the data collected in the field, and c) work on the phonetics & phonology of both languages.
The Project Team
- Dr. Akinbiyi Akinlabi is a professor in the Linguistics Department at Rutgers University, and is experienced in working on Ijoid languages (especially Kalabari), as well as doing fieldwork on other languages spoken in southern Nigera (notably Ibibio). Dr. Akinlabi, together with Dr. Connell, oversees the entire project, including the collection and analysis of data from Defaka & Nkoroo, supervises the PhD students, and supervises the processing of the collected materials at Rutgers.
- Dr. Bruce Connell is a professor in the Linguistics and Language Studies Program at Glendon College, York University, Toronto, and a research associate at the University of Kent, UK. He is an experienced fieldworker, well versed in coordinating work on endangered languages, innovating ‘best practice’ in linguistic description & documentation, and training linguists for documentary linguistics. His research has focused mostly on languages of the Nigeria-Cameroon borderland. Dr. Connell and Dr. Akinlabi oversee the whole project, and are in charge of preparing and annotating audio recordings for archival storage.
- Prof. Ozo-Mekuri Ndimele is a professor in the Department of Linguistics and Communication studies at the University of Port Harcourt, and president of the Linguistics Association of Nigeria. He oversees the project operations in Nigeria, coordinates trips to the field, and supervises the student fieldworkers there.
- Mr. Will Bennett is a Ph.D. student in the Linguistics Department at Rutgers University. He is in charge of processing and editing the materials collected in both languages, and formatting the recordings and meta-data for storage in the archive. Will also maintains this website.
- Mrs. Inoma Essien is a linguistics Ph.D. student at the University of Port Harcourt, and is working on Defaka as the topic of her dissertation. She is in charge of collecting, recording, and transcribing data from Defaka, as well as finding and recruiting Defaka language consultants.
- Mrs. Ebi Obikudo is also a linguistics Ph.D. student at the University of Port Harcourt, and is currently writing her dissertation on Nkoroo. She in charge of collecting, recording, and transcribing data from Nkoroo, as well as finding and recruiting Nkoroo language consultants.
Funding for this project was provided by the ‘Documenting Endangered Languages’ (DEL) Program, run by the National Science Foundation. NSF grant number 0553971.