KONRAD RYBKA / Lokono
I obtained the title of a Doctor of Linguistics from the University of Amsterdam, and work in close collaboration with the Lokono people—speakers of a critically endangered Arawakan language. My research focuses on the linguistic encoding of space, particularly large-scale space, that is landscape, and on developing organic language revitalization methods. I created this webpage to facilitate the interaction between the academic community, the Lokono community, and me. Feel encouraged to browse through the different projects below or drop me a line.
My doctoral thesis is now out. It brings together a number of topics related to how the Lokono people talk about landscape. The book is freely available from the LOT publishers and the digital archive of the University of Amsterdam.
Lokono has an interesting, albeit endangered, system of naming plant-based ecotopes (geographic areas dominated by a certain plant). The two derivational suffixes used to derive them encode a difference in how wet the ecotope is. By placing the system of ectopic distinctions within the context of Lokono cultural practices I show what role the vocabulary might have played in coordinating social actions. This paper is in review now, but you can see the poster that goes with it here.
There are many written sources about the Lokono language, yet you may have problems finding them or you may not even know they exist. The Lokono Catalogue project is an up-to-date catalogue of materials about Lokono, including grammars, dictionaries, articles, and unpublished manuscripts about any aspect of Lokono culture. It was put together in order to facilitate the quest for all things Lokono, particularly for the Lokono people who wish to know more about their own heritage.
Today, in every Lokono village there remains only a small number of native speakers of the language. However, in spite of the ongoing language loss, language awareness is increasing and measures are being taken to develop the language. This paper assess the situation, giving particular attention to the state-of-the-art in language development activities, including language documentation. Visit the webpage of the Language Documentation & Conservation journal to read this open-access article.
The Archive of the Lokono Language (ALL) is a digital depository for Lokono language data. It is part of The Language Archive, hosted by the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. It contains scans of older written materials, audio and video recordings, songs, pictures, and much more. The Lokono community is in charge of the archive and decides on the accessibility of the materials. Please visit the archive and drop us a line if you require access.
Lokono Dian News is Facebook Community Group functioning as an educational and informational platform. With over 450 followers, the group brings together people interested in learning more about the Lokono language, history, art, and society. Join the community and stay in touch with us.
Martin Purci, the former chief of the Cassipora village and an enthusiastic Lokono language activist told as a great Lokono story. The text will soon be published on the pages of the Texts in Indigenous Languages of the Americas Series. The publication will feature a webpage with a video recording of the narration. Three more stories from three different Arawakan languages will be featured in the same volume. You can watch a work-in-progess video of the story here.
Today few people speak Lokono, and even fewer can write it. Lack of a common orthographic standard has been a major obstacle for language revitalisation activities. Within this project together with the Lokono activists from Suriname, Guyana and French Guiana, we have established a writing convention. Thanks to a grant from the Society for Endangered Languages, we have published it as a book, and distributed it in Lokono villages in Suriname. Download your copy here.
How do people conceptualise landforms across cultures? This paper examines the linguistic encoding of landforms in Lokono, which is fundamentally different from what we know from Indo-European languages, like English. Lokono landform vocabulary includes the general term horhorho ‘landform’ and a number of complex phrases based on it. This paper is published in the International Journal of American Linguistics.
In the Netherlands, there is a sizeable community of Lokono people who originally emigrated from Suriname. Unfortunately most of them grew up in an environment where Lokono was not spoken. In 2014 we organised a Lokono course in Amsterdam. The course was filmed and all the course materials are available online. Check it out!
This paper discusses Lokono placenames collected in three field sites in Suriname. What do these names tell us about how the Lokono view their environment? Available soon.
Lokono nouns are split in two classes: what- and where-nouns, on language internal grounds. What-nouns require a different Location marker than where-nouns. This distribution is not accidental. Placing a what-noun in a morphosyntactic frame of a where-noun, entails regular semantic modification. In this paper I look at the Lokono system in detail.