In an interdisciplinary effort, Jeff Ondich of Computer Science and Mike Flynn of Linguistics have collaborated on a project to build a pedagogical grammar for the Dakota language. After the Director of the Dakota Language Institute, on the Lake Traverse Reservation, reached out to Ondich, the professors adopted the project of writing a clear and non-technical description of the language. The goal of this project is preserving and revitalizing the language, which is technically considered “moribund,” or severely endangered.
Through funding by the National Science Foundation and the Mellon Grant for Public Works, Ondich and Flynn have made visits to the Reservation to meet with treasured elders who speak the language. In addition, during the winter 2018 term, on campus, Professor Flynn and Professor Cati Fortin co-taught a linguistics course on the Structure of the Dakota. In this class, Carleton students, with the assistance of speakers of the language who Skyped-in to class, participated in producing drafts of descriptions of parts of the language.