Brook Danielle Lillehaugen Receives ACLS Digital Extension Grant
The associate professor of linguistics will use these funds to continue her ongoing work preserving the endangered inidigenous Zapotec language.
Associate Professor and Haverford Chair of the Tri-College Department in Linguistics Brook Danielle Lillehaugen has been awarded a Digital Extension Grant from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) for her ongoing Ticha Project, which is meant to preserve written text in the endangered indigenous Zapotec language.
“Zapotec is an indigenous language spoken in Oaxaca, Mexico, and by diaspora communities in Mexico and the United States, especially California,” said Lillehaugen. “There is a long history of alphabetic writing in Zapotec language and this corpus of texts is a rich and underutilized resource on Zapotec language, history, culture, and personal heritage.”
Along with an interdisciplinary team of collaborators (all of whom can be found here) including linguist and project co-director George Aaron Broadwell of the University of Florida, Zapotec scholars and advisors Xóchitl Flores-Marcial of California State University, Northridge, Felipe H. Lopez of the University of California, San Diego, and Moisés García Guzmán, Haverford’s digital scholarship expert Mike Zarafonetis, as well as a series of students, Lillehaugen has been working on the Ticha Project since 2013. The project—whose name comes from a Zapotec word meaning “text,” “word,” or “language”—largely takes the form of an online database.
“Ticha is a digital scholarship project that allows users to access and explore many interlinked layers of texts from a corpus of texts written in the Zapotec language during the Mexican Colonial period,” said Lillehaugan. “Users can navigate images of the original documents, transcriptions, translations, and linguistic analysis. Ticha seeks to make this corpus of Colonial Zapotec texts accessible to scholars in diverse fields, Zapotec community members, and the general public.”
The ACLS Digital Extension Grant will expand the project’s continued efforts to organize these resources by funding meetings among Lillehaugen and her collaborators at Haverford as well as in California and Oaxaca. In addition, the grant includes funding for a student research assistant who will begin working on pedagogical materials during the academic year to supplement the database and will eventually travel to California and Oaxaca to meet with Lillehaugen’s collaborators.
The funding will also increase the scope of the project. In the coming year, it will help Lillehaugen and her collaborators identify and work with high school and college teachers who may be interested in using the Ticha materials and resources in their lesson plans. By getting these materials into the hands of educators, Lillehaugen and her collaborators can simultaneously expand awareness of their project’s importance and actualize their goal of making these Zapotec materials accessible to young people, particularly those in Oaxaca and diaspora communities. For now, the project is still seeking teachers for this wing of the project.
“If someone happens to be reading this and wants to get involved—please write to me!” said Lillehaugen.
Read more about Ticha Project’s inception, some of the trips that Lillehaugen and her students have taken for the project, and what it’s like to be a student research assistant on the project, and follow them on Twitter @TichaProject and on Facebook.