The purpose of this dictionary is to provide Spanish speakers with information about the current uw cuwa vocabulary.
Between 1964 and 1982, my husband Paul Headland and I, lived among the Uwa in Cobaría (Boyacá), Colombia, during the months when they are, in general, in the hamlet in the highlands. During those years, when the Uwa went down to their other villages, we often brought some of them to live with us in the Center of the Summer Institute of Linguistics. The grammatical analysis presented here is the reflection of our work in Cobaría and the data obtained there.
Between 1981 and 1986 we worked with Uwa de Tegría. The dictionary contains words of both dialectal varieties. The variation in the most known cases is indicated, however, the indication of this variation is not exhaustive. The illustrative sentences can also reflect, in some cases, the grammar of the Uwa of Tegría.
We lived for a brief period in San Miguel with people who were originally from Bócuta, hence some data from that area are also included. The language is continuously changing; as the Uwa of the different villages interact with each other, some of the differences are neutralized, and it is difficult to determine which group they come from.
Our experience has proven that the direct elicitation of phrases or sentences tends to produce unnatural forms that reflect Spanish grammar more than uw cuwa. That is why we depend on transcribed texts as the main source of the data. We record oral texts, mainly narrated by elderly men. Most of these texts refer to facts of daily life (which include narratives, procedures, conversations, descriptions and feelings) and not to its mythology that, in most cases, is found in the songs.
We collected some ceremonial texts and observed a difference in the discursive style used in the ceremonies. When we live in Cobaría among monolingual people, we wrote new words and new grammatical constructions heard in conversations. To find out the placement and the semantic domains of a word, we asked questions in uw cuwa using the procedures outlined in Beekman, 1968: 1-11.