Jaime Germán Peña: Mary Haas Book Award Recipient

The Mary Haas Book Award winner was announced at the business meeting of the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas, held in Austin, Texas. This award is presented to a junior scholar for an unpublished manuscript that makes a significant contribution to our knowledge of Native American languages.

Jaime Germán Peña was awarded the Mary Haas Award for his 2015 dissertation, A Grammar of Wampis. University of Oregon. 970 pp.

The Haas Award Committee commented on Jaime Peña’s dissertation:

[This] is an extremely ambitious and comprehensive descriptive grammar based on extensive fieldwork and primary data collection. It constitutes the first grammatical description of Wampis, a vulnerable language of the Jivaroan family, spoken in Peru.

The grammar is richly exemplified and replete with charts and tables that summarize the kinds of information people often go looking for in descriptive grammars, and has the necessary internal cross-referencing that helps make descriptive grammars more user-friendly as reference resources.

Peña’s work is truly exceptional in breadth and depth; not only are all parts of the grammar of Wampis (i.e. phonology, morphosyntax, discourse) discussed in-depth but the author also seeks to offer diachronic explanations for observed patterns and provide cross-linguistic comparison. The use of data from natural discourse and the author’s focus on both form and function provide a window into language use among the Wampis. Additional, Peña’s diachronic approach enables him to capture the dynamic nature of the language as an entity that is constantly in flux.

It is … truly remarkable that this work constitutes the first-ever description of this language and that the author was able to achieve this level of analysis without any prior work.

[This is] a truly impressive and comprehensive effort that constitutes a major contribution to the study of indigenous languages of the Americas and is clearly worthy of the Haas Award.

Two dissertations were also selected for honorable mention.  Both these works exemplify a very high standard of scholarship and truly commendable dedication on the part of their authors. Perhaps most importantly, members of the Haas Award Committee felt that both are representative of types of documentation and analysis that we as an organization value highly and would like to see of more of within the discipline.

  • Lewis Lawyer was awarded Honorable Mention for his 2015 dissertation, A Description of the Patwin Language. UC Davis. 395 pp.
  • Konrad Arkadiusz Rybka was awarded Honorable Mention for his 2016 dissertation, The Linguistic Encoding of Landscape in Lokono. Universiteit van Amsterdam. 376 + 105 pp.

The 2016-2017 Mary Haas Book Award Committee consisted of Patricia A. Shaw (Chair); Gabriela Perez-Baez, Spike Gildea, Jorge Rosés Labrada, Kristine Stenzel, and Siri Tuttle.

Patricia A. Shaw, Chair of the Haas Committee, presented the award to Jaime Germán Peña via Skype:

Patricia A. Shaw, Chair of the Haas Committee, and Alice Taff, President of SSILA, recognize the Honorable Mention awardees, Lewis Lawyer and Konrad Arkadiusz Rybka:

Updated: January 18, 2017 — 7:13 pm