The Mara Project

The Mara Project currently underway at the Department of Languages, University of Helsinki, carries out research into four South Mara (Bantu) languages, Ikoma, Nata, Isenye and Ngoreme, known collectively as the Western Serengeti languages, spoken in the Mara region in northern Tanzania. The central goal of the project is the documentation of these endangered languages.

The project is funded by Koneen Säätiö and is carried out in at the Department of Languages, University of Helsinki, in collaboration with international researches. During the five year project (2016-2020), field work will be conducted in Tanzania and the data will be used to compile a comparative grammatical description of the target languages. Research methodology in language contact will also be developed. In addition, two comparative PhD dissertations will be composed as part of the project – one on the TAM (tense-aspect-mood) systems and the other on topics in morphosyntax.

The project will additionally contribute to the local development of these languages, providing valuable data for use in the creation of writing systems and in literacy campaigns.