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Biogram

A Ph.D. student at Interdisciplinary Doctoral Studies (Środowiskowe Transdyscyplinarne Studia Doktoranckie) at the „Artes Liberales” faculty. Her Ph.D. research topic is Spanish-contact induced innovations in Huasteca Nahuatl and Tének. Elwira has an M.A. in Ethnolinguistics from Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań (2004) and an M.A. in Language Documentation and Description from SOAS, University of London (2010).

Elwira has experience working with the speech communities of endangered languages in Mexico (Huasteca, Milpa Alta, Tlaxcala, Sierra Norte de Puebla), on Guernsey Island and in El Salvador. Since 2014, she has been involved in documentation and revitalization projects in the Huasteca Potosina region of Mexico where she has been working with the Nahua communities giving talks, organizing Nahuatl orthography workshops for school children and cooperating with local NGOs promoting social justice (e.g. gender equity workshops). Elwira considers herself an adopted daughter of her beloved town of Xilitla, where she also cooperates with the local government, NGOs and businesses revitalizing the indigenous culture and language of the region. In 2015 she received a grant from the Foundation for Endangered Languages to document the oral tradition of the Huasteca Potosina region which resulted in the publication of a bilingual book (Nahuatl and Spanish) called Kamanaltlajtolmej Xilitlan: Narraciones en náhuatl de Xilitla. In 2016, Elwira formed a collective group with native Nahuatl speakers to document traditions of the Nahua people; this group also gave a free weekly Nahuatl course in Xilitla in summer 2017. During her stay in Mexico she has given over 100 hours of talks and workshop on language, cultural heritage and indigenous identity at Mexican universities including the UNAM, FES Acatlán and local intercultural universities, as well as in primary, secondary and high schools.

Elwira values teamwork, exchange of information and international contacts in successful academic projects. As a member of the research group „Spotkania Starego i Nowego Świata” („Encounters between the Old and New Worlds”), she has been involved in several projects at the „Artes Liberales” faculty including: Europe and America in Contact, Engaged Humanities and recently also LCure (all directed by Justyna Olko, Ph.D., D.Litt.).

Elwira enjoys talking about her work with the indigenous communities and has been invited to do so on Mexican radio (XEANT, Voz de la Huasteca; UASLP Radio Universidad), Polish radio (TOK FM; „Trójka” Polskie Radio) and on television in Mexico (Televisa; TV Tamazunchale). She accepts invitations to explain the importance of her work to general public as she does frequently in Mexico and in Poland (e.g. talk at Wędrówki Club in Wrocław).

Apart from Mesoamerica and linguistics related subjects she also enjoys travelling, cycling, drinking interesting teas, cross stitching, Icelandic music, Middle Eastern cuisine, lucha libre, Medieval art and surreal cinema.

Invited Talks (selected)
2017

Documentación y revitalización del náhuatl en la Huasteca Potosina: Rescate de la tradición oral de la gente nahua de Xilitla.
Plenary talk at the Encuentro Nacional de Estudiantes de Lengua y Literatura Hispánicas, Universidad Nacional Antónoma de México (UNAM), Facultad de Estudios Superiores (FES), Acatlán, Estado de México, Mexico (25.04.2017).

2017

Diálogos en torno al náhuatl de la Huasteca. Presentación del libro Kamanaltlajtolmej Xilitlan.
Universidad Nacional Antónoma de México (UNAM), Facultad de Estudios Superiores (FES), Acatlán, Estado de México, Mexico (24.04.2017).

2017

Proyectos de revitalización del náhuatl en Xilitla, S.L.P.
Universidad Intercultural del Estado de San Luis Potosí, Tancanhuitz de Santos, Mexico (23.03.2017).

2017

Documentación de la tradición oral en náhuatl. Presentación del libro de cuentos Kamanaltlajtolmej Xilitlan.
Centro de Enseñanza de Lenguas Extranjeras (CELE), Universidad Nacional Autónomo de México (UNAM), Mexico City, Mexico (22.02.2017).

2017

La situación de lenguas indígenas de México. Proyectos de revitalización del náhuatl en la Huasteca Potosina.
Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland (01.02.2017).

2017

Indigenous languages in Mexico. Nahuatl revitalization projects in the Huasteca Potosina.
Mexican Society at the University of Edinburgh special event, United Kingdom (26.01.2017).

2016

Tecnología, cultura y lenguas indígenas.
Instituto Tecnológico Superior de Tamazunchale (10.05.2016).

Conference activity | Papers presented

2017

Lessons to learn from analysis of texts in Nahuatl written by primary and secondary school students.
First European Nahuatl Conference, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland (17-18.11.2017).

2017

Responsible linguistics and observer’s paradox: fieldwork experience from the Nahua communities in Huasteca Potosina, Mexico.
Engaged Humanities: preserving and revitalizing endangered languages and cultural heritage, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland (15-16.11.2017).

2017

Proyectos de revitalización de náhuatl en Xilitla en la Huasteca Potosina.
Escuela de campo: documentación, investigación participativa, enseñanza y revitalización de idiomas en peligro. San Miguel Xaltipan, Tlaxcala, Mexico (19-29.08.2017).

2017

Language contact kills intimacy: Changes in possession marking in Huasteca Potosina Nahuatl and Tének under Spanish influence.
2017 Congress of Latin American Studies Association (LASA), Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Lima, Peru (29.04-01.05.2017).

2015

A ‘small’ language in contact with a ‘big’ one: The loss of alienability distinction in Tének (Mayan) under Spanish influence.
45th Poznań Linguistic Meeting, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland (17-19.09.2015).

2015

Presencia de la señalización multilingüe en los espacios publicos y las actitudes ante lenguas minoritarias. Caso de las lenguas indígenas de México.
3ras Jornadas de Lenguas En Contacto, Universidad Autónoma de Nayarit, Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico (18-20.06.2015).

2015

Multilingual signs and endangered language revitalization efforts. Presence of written language in public spaces and language attitudes. Case of Nahuatl in Mexico.
The Linguistic Landscape 7 (LL7) Workshop, The University of California in Berkeley, USA (07-09.05.2015).

2015

Dynamics of Language Contact in La Huasteca Potosina, Mexico.
The Norwegian Graduate Student Conference in Linguistics and Philology, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway (22-23.01.2015).

Conference activity | Discussant
2017

Panel: Estrategias discursivas y significado.
2017 Congress of Latin American Studies Association (LASA), Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Lima, Peru (29.04-01.05.2017).

2015

Mesa 7: Proyectos de Documentación Lingüística.
III Coloquio de la Red de Archivos de las Lenguas de México, Universidad Antónoma de San Luis Potosí, San Luis Potosí, Mexico (02-04.09.2015).

Publikacje

  • Sobkowiak, Elwira, Marcin Kilarski. 2017. „A ‘small’ language in contact with a ‘big’ one: The loss of alienability distinction in Tének (Mayan) under Spanish influence”. In: European Review 26.1, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. On-line: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/european-review/article/small-language-in-contact-with-a-big-one-the-loss-of-the-alienability-distinction-in-tenek-mayan-under-spanish-influence/35CD054AB8D68974678ED43C929DE662 (accessed 11.01.2018).
  • Sobkowiak, Elwira. 2015. „New World indigenous languages in contact with Spanish. Language contact outcomes and attitudes to contact-induced changes reported in selected colonial missionary works”. In: Memorias del XVIII Encuentro de la Red de Investigadores del Fenómeno Religioso en México, 15, 16 y 17 de abril de 2015 en Mérida, Yucatán, pp. 145-164.
  • Sobkowiak, Elwira. 2015. „Presence of multilingual signs in public spaces and language attitudes. Case of indigenous languages in Mexico.” In: Memorias de Las Terceras Jornadas de Lenguas en Contacto, Universidad Autónoma de Nayarit, Tepic, Nayarit, México, pp. 46-60.
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