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Documentation of Kenyah

The objective of this project, is to document, describe and preserve two endangered Kenyah languages, Lebu’ Kulit and Òma Lóngh and a Penan language, Penan Benalui all spoken in the Province of East Kalimantan in Indonesia.  Previous fieldwork has consisted almost exclusively of wordlists. Yet a comprehensive description of Kenyah and Penan languages can only be achieved once textual data has been collected in at least some isolects, so an analysis can be made of its morphology and syntax. Recording Kenyah and Penan isolects in electronic form, transcribing the recordings, and describing their structure will not only be a boon to Austronesian studies and to general linguistics, but may also instill a pride of the language among its speakers, and encourage them to preserve their cultural and linguistic heritage. This, in turn, will be a small addition to international efforts to preserve the world’s cultural and linguistic diversity.

One of the projects co-funded by the Culture Unit of UNESCO office, Jakarta, in 2004/2005 entails of recording various types of texts, including oral literature and oral history; transcribing texts with the assistance of native consultants; analyzing the texts to produce linguistic studies; and last but not least, making texts available to members of the community on audio cassettes as well as in written form. Poems, songs, music, and dances performed by members of Lebu’ Kulit and Òma Lóngh communities have been video recorded. Finally, automatically generated glossaries of Lebu’ Kulit and Òma Lóngh have been produced, with a view to producing dictionaries of the isolects in the future..

The project entails of recording various types of texts, including oral literature and oral history; transcribing texts with the assistance of native consultants; analyzing the texts to produce linguistic studies; and last but not least, making texts available to members of the community on audio cassettes as well as in written form. Poems, songs, music, and dances performed by members of Lebu’ Kulit and Òma Lóngh communities have been video recorded. Finally, automatically generated glossaries of Lebu’ Kulit and Òma Lóngh have been produced, with a view to producing dictionaries of the isolects in the future.

Project Members

  • Antonia Soriente

Publications

Soriente, Antonia (ed.) 2006. Mencalèny & Usung Bayung Marang: a collection of Kenyah stories in the Òma Lóngh and Lebu' Kulit languages. Jakarta: Atma Jaya Univ. Press.

Soriente, Antonia  2006. “Uma’ Kulit: a Kenyah or Kayan language?” in Linguistik Indonesia 24,1:71-81.

Soriente, Antonia  2006. “Mencalèny & Usung Bayung Marang: A Kenyah Language Documentation project in East Kalimantan.” in Reflections in Rivers. Festshrift for Prof. J.T. Collins. Pontianak: Stain Press: 65-96.

Links to web pages with more information about the project

Webpage at Jakarta Fieldstation 
http://lingweb.eva.mpg.de/jakarta/document_kenyah.php

Culture Sector, UNESCO Jakarta Office 
http://www.unesco.or.id/activities/culture/56.php