Less Commonly Taught Languages

The ML&CP supports the study of four less commonly taught languages, Quechua, Yucatec Maya, Haitian Creole and Portuguese. In addition to offering language courses, The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) offers Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships for graduate study in these four languages. For more information on FLAS fellowships please visit the CLACS funding page.


Quechua Studies

Quechua is the language of the Inca Empire, currently spoken by more than 13 million people in the Andean republics of South America, an area extending from southern Colombia to northern Argentina and Chile (and including Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador). ML&CP supports the study of Inga, the northernmost dialect of the Quechua language family.

Learning Inga, also known as Runa Simi (“the mouth or tongue of human beings”) opens a gateway into the many wonders of indigenous cultures in the Andes.

The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies is now able to offer a four-semester sequence in Inga, meaning that Indiana University undergraduates can select Inga to fulfill their language requirement. In addition to introducing students to the language, our Inga courses teach about the rich culture of the Andes. Click here for our Inga flyer.

The Inga instructor, Francisco Tandioy Jansasoy, is from the Sibundoy Valley in highland Putumayo. He is a native speaker of Inga and Inga community activist, co-founder of Musu Runakuna, a political action group that works closely with Inga elders to promote Inga language, cultural expression, and land rights.

In connection to this language instruction, the ML&CP is currently producing an Inga language-instruction text we call Ingapi Rimangapa Samuichi: Speaking the Quechua of Colombia. This text is an attractive pedagogy that places the language in its cultural setting and includes many photos, drawings by Inga artists, and audio-visual companion materials. See sample materials here: Introduction, Sug Wachu (Chapter 1), Pichka Wachu (Chapter 5).

The Quechua language and Quechua-speaking peoples are also the focus of intensive research by IU faculty and students, with an emphasis on language preservation, on genres of mythic narrative and ritual speech, on traditional healing, and on dialect studies within the Quechuan family of languages. Materials in preparation include studies on the traditional discourse of Inga elders, on the Quichua song repertoire of Otavalo Runa, and on language policy in the Arequipa region of Perú.

Beginning Fall, 2007, Serafín Coronel-Molina joined the IU faculty in the School of Education, and has added all of his interests to the IU Quechua Studies team.

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Yucatec Maya Studies

Our courses provide students beginning lessons in speaking, writing, and reading Maya, as well as the basic tools to language learning in Yucatec Maya and an introduction to cultural-historical contexts of the Maya. The professor brings over 20 years of research experience with the Yucatec Maya into the classroom as a basis to understand how to use the language within social and cultural contexts. Ethnographic films are used in the class to discuss cultural norms and ways of living among the Maya.

Courses are simultaneously taught at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Graduate students are required to complete a few additional assignments in order to qualify graduate level coursework according to the criteria and stipulations of Indiana University. The core reading materials are comprised of the “Spoken Yucatec Maya Language Lesson Book” prepared at the University of Chicago. Beginning Maya I uses lessons 1-6 and Intermediate Maya II uses lessons 7-12. Advanced Maya III uses lessons 13-18. Additional readings include the book “Maya Verbs” by Victoria Bricker and Refugio Vermont Salas which provides complete conjugation models for all types of verbs (transitives, intransitives, etc.) as well as a core dictionary of verbs. Additional materials include articles by Bill Hanks on deixis or reference, different types of dictionaries in (a) Maya-Spanish, (b) Maya-English or (c) Maya-Spanish-English, as well as published and unpublished explanations of grammar and verb models, socio-linguistics, etc. It is not required to know Spanish to take any of the Maya language courses. However, knowing some Spanish will be helpful and along the way you certainly will learn some Spanish.

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Indiana University Creole Institute

smheartHistory and Mission

The Creole Institute at Indiana University is recognized as the only center in the United States that is equipped to deal in depth with linguistic and related educational issues in Haiti.

The Creole Institute specializes in research and training in the area of applied linguistics with a focus on French-based Creoles. In 1964 Indiana University was the first institution of higher learning to offer instruction in Haitian Creole. With funding from the Department of Education (Title VI), the Institute developed the basic materials for learning Haitian Creole, including the Basic Course in Haitian Creole (1970) and Ann Pale Kreyòl (1988). Most Americans seeking to acquire a working competence in Haitian Creole have used these materials.

In the 1980s, the Creole Institute branched out in the area of educational linguistics and language planning. Under the auspices of the Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Language Affairs (of the U.S. Department of Education) the Institute organized four summer institutes (1981-1984) in Bloomington for the training of bilingual teachers of Haitian children in the three major diaspora centers: New York, Miami, and Boston. With USAID funding, the Institute also organized a conference in Haiti on the use of Creole in primary education (Créole et enseignement primaire en Haïti, 1980) prior to the launching of the World Bank-supported educational reform program in Haiti.

The Creole Institute’s various outreach activities also included three major international conferences sponsored respectively by the National Science Foundation, the Johnson Foundation, and the Ford Foundation, all of which led to collective volumes: Theoretical Issues in Creole Studies (1980), Historicity and Variation in Creole Studies (1981), Issues in International Bilingual Education (1982), and Haiti: Today and Tomorrow (1984).

Publications and Research

In addition to the Basic Course in Haitian Creole and Ann Pale Kreyòl, the Institute has recently prepared the most authoritative dictionary for Haitian Creole, the Haitian Creole-English Bilingual Dictionary (2007), which complements the Learner’s Dictionary of Haitian Creole (English-Haitian Creole, 1996). These and other research publications prepared by the Creole Institute provide research experience for interested graduate students.

Other publications of the Institute dealing with French-based Creoles are The Saint-Lucian Creole Basic Course (1968) commissioned by the U.S. Peace Corps and the Dictionary of Louisiana Creole (1998) funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The NEH also funded research on Louisiana Regional French conducted in collaboration with several universities in Louisiana. Products of that research include the CD-ROM Discovering Cajun French through the spoken word (2003) and the forthcoming (2007) Dictionary of Louisiana French as spoken in the Cajun, Creole, and Native American Communities.

Ongoing research at the Institute in the field of Creole linguistics concentrates primarily on French-based Creoles and related varieties of overseas French. Director Albert Valdman is the author or editor of two basic resources on these subjects, both published in France: Le créole: structure, statut et origine (1978) and Le français hors de France (1979). In addition, in 2003 the Institute organized an international conference on French in North America that led to the collective volume Le français en Amérique du Nord (Laval University Press, 2005).

The Institute is pleased to announce receipt in 2007 of a new grant from the National Science Foundation to continue sociolinguistic research on Haitian Creole with a focus on the variety spoken in Cape Haitian. Selection of graduate research assistants is underway.

Visit the Creole Institute’s Website for more information.

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Portuguese Studies

Established in the 1960s, the Portuguese program at Indiana is one of the oldest in the nation. We are also one of the very few programs in the country to offer the B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in Portuguese. We also offer a Ph.D. minor. Our upper-division and graduate curriculum focuses on Brazilian, Portuguese and Lusophone African literatures and cultures, and courses are regularly taught on Brazilian cinema as well as a range of special topics classes. Please visit the Department of Spanish and Portuguese website for more information on language and culture programs.

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