Haviland and compadre Mol Petul, a Zinacantec "holy elder," beside the Nabenchauk church on Easter Thursday, May 1985.
In talking about his mentors in Australia and Mexico, Haviland often tells of what it means to speak a language, going right to the heart of the importance and complexity of linguistics: "One of the things I'm working on now is a book about old man Petul in Zinacant n. It has to do with the notion of what it means to be a speaker of a language: not just to know the grammar, or even to know how to talk under most circumstances. . . . My mentors in both these communities, and others like them, are not only speakers of their languages, they're master speakers of their languages. They're people who command a whole range of linguistic skills that have been important in achieving their status and identity. These people in Australia, for example-who are the last good, elegant speakers and claimants to a language-can say, it's my language, so I have a right to speak it and I know more about it than you do. So they have taken it on themselves to try and teach me some of that `special' stuff about the language-how to be especially polite, or especially obscure, or especially profound."

Haviland, who joined the Reed faculty in 1986, has brought to his classes that special knowledge of how language can be used. "What really grabs me about languages is learning them and trying to use them and seeing how they actually get used, how their use informs how they're put together. There's no question that when you take one of the courses I teach you end up having to really immerse yourself in some real material-learning either the ethnography of a place, about how language is used, or some funny bits and pieces of the languages."

Several Reed students also benefited from Haviland's connections (and a generous National Science Foundation grant) when they went to Chiapas to study Tzotzil. What Haviland did in the '60s-walking into a village and hoping to be accepted-is impossible in today's political climate. He recently helped place three of his students-Akesha Baron '97, Stuart Robinson '96, and Esteban Guti‚rrez '94-with Zinacant n families of his compadres. Two current Reed students, Natasha Milenkaya '02 and Ann Clifton '02, are spending two months this summer in Chiapas working on the Mayan languages Ch'ol and Tseltal under the auspices of Haviland's NSF grant.

Future linguistics students at Reed will have the privilege of taking part in a large project that Haviland is planning: an electronic internet-based archive of Chiapas languages. He sees this as a perfect opportunity to unite well-trained Reed linguistics students with Indian speakers of the languages who will act as collaborators in the project, not merely as informants. Haviland admits to the project's ambitious hidden agenda: "In order to both produce the materials and maintain the database, one needs to foster the existence of a whole class of people who don't yet exist: native speakers of Indian languages in Chiapas who have academic credentials and the academic training to do research on their own languages themselves."

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