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  HOME | Arts & Entertainment

Colombian Linguist Who Pioneered Study of Indian Languages Dies

BOGOTA – Guillermo Abadia Morales, who pioneered the study of indigenous languages in Colombia, has died, the Culture Ministry said. He was 98.

Morales died Wednesday of natural causes, the ministry said, adding that the scholar had devoted his life to researching and disseminating Colombian folklore.

Beginning in 1934, Abadia Morales spent 10 years living among 17 different jungle tribes representing the different indigenous language families of Colombia.

Through his research, he was able to classify 105 Indian tribes into nine language families and determine the precise geographic distribution of those linguistic groups using a system that has come to be known as the “Abadia Classification.”

During his lengthy career in academia, Abadia was a professor and head of the National University of Colombia’s Center for Folklore Studies, secretary of the National Folklore Board and folklore coordinator at the Colombian Culture Institute’s Musical Documentation Center.

He wrote more than 25 books on music culture, folklore and identity, including the “Compendio General de Folclor” (General Folklore Compendium), whose first edition was published in 1970.

A total of 40,000 copies of that work, known locally as the “national folklore Bible,” have been published and it has become a basic textbook for students of the social sciences in Colombia.

Abadia also was responsible for numerous educational series on Colombian folklore that were broadcast by Radiodifusora Nacional de Colombia, a state-run radio station. EFE
 

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