Two DOBES projects are being carried out with the Aché of eastern Paraguay: a language documentation project and a research project to investigate language contact and change.

The Aché Documentation Project (ADOP) documents linguistic and cultural practices, and cultural knowledge of the Aché focusing on the language as it was spoken before sedentarization. Audio and video recording personal narratives, mythology, traditional songs, and ritual wailing of the elders of the communities, conducting ethnographic interviews, and videotaping interactions and foraging practices on occasional hunting trips to the forest, this project works towards a comprehensive multi-media archive of linguistic and culturally relevant data of the Aché. The data is being transcribed and annotated in the ELAN and Toolbox programs. The project also received donated audio recordings dating as far back as 1960 and video recordings dating back to 1978 as well as unpublished ethnographic material from the 1910s. All materials are being archived in a digital archive to which present and future generations of Aché will have access. The materials are used for the development of educational materials in the Aché communities.
Man talking to two boys

ADOP is the first language documentation project conducted in Paraguay. Working in conjunction with the Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC) of Paraguay, the ADOP team has begun a program to give indigenous schoolteachers a foundation in linguistics and language documentation, so to encourage basic linguistic research by indigenous people on their own languages. This program, called DOLLIP (Linguistic Documentation of Indigenous Languages of Paraguay) has completed several training courses with representatives of groups from different ethnic affiliations and language families.

The second project with the Aché, the Aché Language Studies Project (ALSP), investigates the history and mechanisms of contact-induced language change. Morphosyntactic features of the Aché language suggest its emergence from a contact situation of Guaraní-speaking groups with a group of a different linguistic affiliation (possibly from the Ge family). Paraguayan Guarani is at the same time the target language of a contemporary process of language shift observable in the Aché speech community. ALSP aims at detailed case studies of both the historical and present processes of linguistic convergence, building upon the linguistic record documented in the Aché language archive. Samples of this data will be re-annotated and, alongside new data specifically collected for current research purposes, comprise two subcorpora for (1) a synchronic cross-corpus comparison of Aché morphosyntax with specific Guarani data, and (2) a study of language shift as the result of present-day cultural contact and change through an analysis of Aché socialization patterns.


Aché Documentation Project (Prof. Gippert)
Institut für Empirische Sprachwissenschaft
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
Georg-Voigt-Str. 6
60325 Frankfurt am Main

Email: adop.dobes [AT] gmail [DOT] com