This RAPID award supports critical work related to the Lenape Tribe of Pennsylvania. Their language, which is related to Delaware (SIL code: DEL), has been considered extinct in Pennsylvania. Recently, however, elements of the language retained by the descendants of the last speakers have become known to researchers. This project includes interviews with community elders who retain this language knowledge, specifically related to ceremonies, kinship terms, flora and fauna, and thus contributes to our understanding of language loss within this community. The intellectual merit of the project is seen in the development of annotated texts and new dictionary materials, including previously unavailable tables of verb paradigms which will be of particular interest to scholars of Algonquian languages.
The broader impacts are impressive in that the project pairs Swarthmore college students, who are learning the language in the school setting, with community members who have a retained knowledge of parts of the language, in workshops where the students' linguistic skills assist in the development of community language materials. As such, the project offers a model for broadening participation which could be replicated in similar university-community partnerships.