FAU PH.D. Project to Create First Online Comanche Dictionary


Friday, Aug 16, 2019

Florida Atlantic University Ph.D. student Kathryn Pewenofkit Bridwell-Briner spent a week at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. in August as part of the Smithsonian’s “Recovering Voices Community Research Program.” Bridwell-Briner led a seven-person team to work with written and recorded Comanche materials in the Smithsonian’s National Anthropological Archives. The team, which included five Comanche tribal citizens/descendants and FAU professors Michael Hamilton, Ph.D. and Viktor Kharlamov, Ph.D., gathered archival materials in order to fill in lexical gaps in Comanche vocabulary, grammatical content, and to increase phonological understanding. They looked at records dating back to the 1840s in order to trace the way the Comanche language has changed and grown. This work was part of Bridwell-Briner’s doctorate which focuses on creating the first online Comanche dictionary and learning tool.

Most of the few Comanche who can speak the language are elderly and currently there is no complete online resource for the language. Bridwell-Briner has been working with Comanche speakers over the last several years and has been awarded grants for her language work from the American Philosophical Society, the Endangered Language Fund’s Native Voices Endowment, and the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters at FAU.

The Smithsonian’s Recovering Voices program is supporting Bridwell-Briner with a grant for her research. The program is a collaborative initiative of the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage that supports interdisciplinary research, documentation and revitalization.

For more information about the Ph.D. program in FAU’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, visit www.fau.edu/artsandletters/comparativestudies.