The Miskitu language (a Misumalpan, Macro-Chibchan language of South American origin) is spoken by some 200,000 indigenous Miskitu people along the Honduran and Nicaraguan Caribbean coast. Although Spanish is the national language taught in schools, Miskitu serves as the region’s lingua franca, spoken by members of six other indigenous and Afro-descendant groups, who speak Spanish, Miskitu, and their mother-tongues. In larger towns, Miskitu dominates TV news shows, social media, and radio stations that play Miskitu music and broadcast only in Miskitu. Miskitu language revitalization is currently underway in this pristine rain-forest and coast-lined region.

Laura H. Herlihy

Laura H. Herlihy (PhD, 2002, University of Kansas, Anthropology), a Lecturer in the KU Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, has conducted long-term ethnographic research among the indigenous Miskitu people of Honduras and Nicaragua. Her 2012 book, The Mermaid and the Lobster Diver; Gender, Sexuality and Money on the Miskito Coast (University of New Mexico Press), was chosen by ProQuest as one of the Significant University Press Titles for Undergraduates.

Herlihy speaks the Miskitu language fluently and directs KU CLACS's Language and Culture in Nicaragua summer program. The program is FLAS-eligible, although the University of Kansas does not currently offer FLAS support for Miskitu language study.

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