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USask students meet with locals in the village of Pijal, Ecuador.

Students visit Ecuador to preserve endangered language

Four linguistics students spent two weeks in Ecuador assisting with a dictionary project

Four University of Saskatchewan students spent two weeks in Ecuador in June to assist in compiling the first-ever dictionary of an endangered language called Media Lengua.

Olga Kriukova, Kristy Reyes, Adrián Estrada and Taliza Chavez lived and worked in the rural community of Pijal as they helped with a research project led by assistant professor of linguistics Dr. Jesse Stewart (PhD).

Media Lengua is still spoken by about 300 people in Pijal. The students worked with language consultants there to gather and translate more than 4,000 words for what will become the first published dictionary of Media Lengua.

The final dictionary will contain audio recordings and translations into Spanish, Quichua and English. It will be made available online and used as a resource by community members, researchers and members of the public.

After completing their work, the students toured the region and participated in Inti Raymi, the summer solstice festival.

The dictionary project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Lodging, food and activities for the students were provided by Pijal’s community tourism centre, Sumak Pacha.

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