The First Kagate Dictionary

This month’s grant goes to Lauren Gawne (The Academic Linguistics of LOLspeak) for her project to document and digitize the Kagate language, spoken by a thousand people mostly living in the mountains between the Likhu and Khimti rivers at an altitude of 3,000 meters (9,840 feet) above sea level in Nepal. Lauren is currently doing her PhD in linguistics and has recently published a dictionary of Lamjung Yolmo, a neighboring language to Kagate.

In her words: “While on a field trip in 2009 I met speakers of a language called Kagate through a friend. These people had a linguist come and work with them in the 1970s, she published a paper on the sounds of the language and left them a single copy typewritten dictionary. The language is endangered with only around 1000 speakers and one of the youngest is now 26. He’s also computer literate and speaks Kagate, Nepali and English. He wants to record his language before it’s too late.”

For the project she’ll be working with her friend to make the dictionary better and share it using a small custom press to make copies and creating a web version. The dictionary will become the first major publication made in this language and will be a chance for the speakers to proactively work to maintain their language. This also offers us the remarkable opportunity to merge LOLspeak and Kagate to make us truly knowledgeable internet users. Well done Lauren!

Funded by Ottawa (December 2011)