Amazonian Linguistics


The VU University Center of Amazonian Linguistics (VUCAL) together with the Department of Romance Languages integrates the Chair of Romance Languages and Amazonian Languages lead by Dr. Leo Wetzels. Most of the investigations on Amazonian languages carried out at VUCAL are part of integrated programs, like the Nambikwara and Maku projects, which are briefly outlined below. The research is carried out in close cooperation with the LUCL, in particular the Leiden Center for Amerindian Studies (Prof. Dr. Willem Adelaar, director) and the Centre d’Études des Langues Indigènes d’Amérique (CELIA, CNRS, Paris, Prof. Dr. Francesc Queixalos, director); moreover, recently cooperation has begun with the anthropology department at the Federal University of Amazonas, in Manaus, Brazil (Dr. Frantomé Pacheco) and the Nucleo de Pesquisas em Ciências Sociais e Humanas through the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, which is also in Manaus (lead by Dr. Carla Bruno). Former VU University students continue to collaborate with the research on Amazonian languages through an academic exchange program that was established between the Faculty of Arts of the VU University and the linguistics departments of the Federal Universities of Paraíba (João Pessoa), Pernambuco (Recife), and Alagoas (Maceió). The Federal University of Amazonas (Manaus) will soon be added officially to this list.

Students working on their doctorate or post-doctorate research on Amerindian languages at the VU University are supervised on a daily basis by Leo Wetzels. Most of the time, a team of supervisors is organized along with additional specialists in this field of expertise, such as professors Adelaar (Leiden University), Queixalos (CELIA, Paris), and others. A course program is established at the start of the doctorate trajectory for every student individually, which is designed according to the students’ needs and academic history. Courses in linguistic analysis and theory, as well as in fieldwork methodology, are taken with the VU University linguistics program, the Leiden University Centre of Linguistics (LUCL), and LOT (Landelijke Onderzoekschool Taalwetenschap, The Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics), which biannually offers a wide variety of linguistic disciplines at the national level. In addition, students are required to present their work in monthly seminars led by Leo Wetzels. Once every three months, alternatively in Amsterdam and Paris, the students of CELIA and VUCAL meet to discuss their research results and problems. Students are also encouraged to spend a semester in another institution specialised in the study of Amerindian languages outside of the Netherlands.

Project 1: An investigation of the language and cultural anthropology of the Nambikwara

Project 2: The Maku peoples and languages of Brazil (Eastern Maku) and Columbia (Western Maku)