Gutob is a seriously endangered and poorly described language of Odisha State in eastern-central India. There are many unusual constructions found in Gutob, some traceable to archaic South Munda. Noun incorporation, for example, allows a range of semantic roles to be incorporated into the verb. For example, 'I wash my hand' is expressed in Gutob as 'I wash-hand' where 'hand' is incorporated into the verb to create a new verb 'wash-hand'. Moreover, the same noun may occur within the verb and also occur as an independent noun; for example, 'I my hand wash-hand'.
Gregory Anderson of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages and K. David Harrison of Swarthmore College will work with Indian scholars over the course of this two-year grant to create a comprehensive scientific description (a reference grammar, corpus of analyzed oral language samples, and analytic dictionary) of Gutob. They will analyze in depth noun incorporation and other typologically unique Gutob constructions. Since Gutob has through its history been in contact with genetically unrelated languages, Anderson and Harrison will also investigate the extent and nature of Gutob language change through contact. Through their interaction with and mentoring of local scholars, the researchers will build infrastructure for further language documentation in Odisha State.
All Gutob audio and video data, along with transcriptions and translations, collected during the project will be freely accessible from the Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures. An online Gutob Talking Dictionary will be freely available at the talkingdictionary.org website.
This project is supported by co-funds from the National Science Foundation's International Science and Engineering Office.