After being in contact online with speakers of Central Pame during the pandemic, I decided to take research on the language to the next level when conditions improved. Having obtained the necessary funds from the Swiss Society of Endangered Languages, I undertook a four-week field trip to Mexico. Time was split between Santa María Acapulco (SMA, a village of around 1000 inhabitants) and Cárdenas (a town of around 20000), both in the state of San Luis Potosí, around 8 hours north of Mexico City. The former, in a mountainous area, hosts the largest Pame speaking population, while the latter, in a plain, hosts many Pame-speaking “expats” from the surrounding region, who tend to emigrate away from their birth communities due to the poor economic conditions there, a fact that is jeopardizing the survival of Central Pame, and more so of closely-related Northern Pame, both of which are understudied languages.
The main goals of the trip were 1) to record a set of predefined Pame words from various different speakers (in order to explore the realization of stress and tone, and other phonologically challenging aspects of the language), and 2) to compile a database of verbal inflection in the language (which is characterized, like other languages in the family, by its inordinate complexity, making active use of tone, stress, and stem alternations, and being organized into numerous highly unpredictable inflection classes).
The outcome of 1) were 21 recordings from as many different speakers of different ages (18 to 72) and sexes (13 female, 8 male), where they pronounce 120 words in naturalistic carrier sentences. The outcome of 2) was an inflected lexicon of Central Pame with the complete paradigms of 180 verbs. In addition, a small inflected lexicon of 40 Northern Pame verbs (a closely-related variety of the language) was compiled, and three short stories and two conversations (of around 15 minutes in total) were recorded and partially transcribed.