Volume 25 Fifty Years of CRIL
Contributions from CU Linguistics Doctoral Alumni

The Ch'orti' Project Collaboration

Robin Quizar
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Rich Sandoval
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Published August 22, 2021
Keywords
  • Ch’orti’ Mayan,
  • language documentation, revitalization, reclamation,
  • Classic Mayan,
  • collaborative research

Abstract

Dr. Robin Quizar and Dr. Rich Sandoval are both alumni of CU Boulder Linguistics, and they are both affiliated with Metropolitan State University of Denver, Robin as Emeritus Professor of Linguistics and Rich as Assistant Professor of Anthropology. Together they run a language documentation effort called the Ch’orti’ Project, of which Robin is the director. Robin worked extensively with the Ch’orti’ (Mayan) language and community in Guatemala throughout the 1970s and 80s, helping to produce a number of language reference and revitalization materials. After retiring from MSU Denver, Robin renewed this research, reconnected with the Ch’orti’ community, and founded the Ch’orti’ Project in 2013 as a collaborative effort with MSU Denver’s Ethnography Lab. Rich joined the project in 2017. Given his background in linguistic anthropology, language documentation, and other relevant linguistics subfields, Rich was a good fit to help Robin run the project. The project’s accomplishments over the years are in large part due to the work of student assistants from the Ethnography Lab. One of the main goals of the project is to give these anthropology and linguistics undergraduate students real-world experience as well as the opportunity to develop a variety of practical and technological skills. The project has also involved other collaborators, including other scholar/researchers. Because a primary focus of the Ch’orti’ Project is to support the Ch’orti’ community’s own language revitalization efforts, including the reclamation of the Classic Mayan writing system, the project has undertaken a number of trips to the Ch’orti’ communities of Guatemala and Honduras in order to learn about these efforts, conduct research, and otherwise develop community relationships. The essay elaborates on Robin, Rich, and other collaborators’ work with respect to these project activities and goals. It also provides background on Ch’orti’ language revitalization efforts, general Ch’orti’ language scholarship, and Robin’s contributions to both.