Featured Language: Tigrinya

Submitted by Joyce Parvi on
Seium Habties
David Odden and Seium Habties, right.

Tigrinya native speaker Seium Habties once again guided UW linguists in Winter 2020 Field Methods in an exploration of the structure of his language.  Prof. Sharon Hargus designed assignments for students Ella DeatonRob Squizzero, and Tsudoi Wada on the sound system, nouns and verbs, and other areas of Tigrinya grammar, as well as explorations of the Tigrinya lexicon and texts.

Habties had a connection to UW even before his first quarter working with UW linguists in an Autumn 2018 field methods class.  His wife, Neghisty Habties, was a member of the custodial staff at UW for many years before retiring in 2020.  In 2018 Hargus approached Custodial Services looking for a Tigrinya speaker to work with the class, and she was put in touch with Neghisty, who suggested her husband.

UW Linguistics affiliate faculty David Odden (formerly of Ohio State University) also participated in the Winter 2020 class, providing the class with much appreciated technical expertise and guidance from his decades of field study of various African languages, including Kimatuumbi, Logoori and Kerewe.  Odden and Habties have continued to meet and research the Tigrinya sound system and word structure, including investigations into pharyngeals, geminate consonants, and other phenomena, and are working on developing a web page making information about Tigrinya generally available.