Elinor Abbot, Ph.D.

Adjunct in Applied Linguistics
E-mail: elinor_abbot@sil.org

Elinor Abbot



Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts

1990 Ph.D. - Social and Cultural Anthropology
Dissertation: Transformations: The Reconstruction of Social Hierarchy in Early Colonial Andover, Massachusetts. Research based on genealogical and other records in archives of 17th century New England towns.
1975 M.A. - Social and Cultural Anthropology
Thesis: Black Caribs, Belizean Nationalism, and the Carib Development Society in Stann Creek, British Honduras. Research based on a one-year study project, including three months field work in Belize, Central America

Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, Massachusetts

1975 B.A. Bachelor of Fine Arts - Painting and Art History
Senior Thesis: Zen Buddhism and Contemporary American Painting

Professional Experience



  • Instructor and Field Consultant in Anthropology, Summer Institute of Linguistics (1975 -present)
    • 30 years of teaching, training and field consulting in the U.S., Mexico, Guatemala, United Kingdom, Africa, Australia and Asia, as employee and member of Wycliffe Bible Translators, Inc., working with Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL International).
    • Work has included the following: developing curricula for training programs; teaching, supervising and evaluating students from various countries and backgrounds; instructing in anthropology, sociolinguistics, ethnolinguistics, translation issues, second language learning, health care and physical survival, multi-cultural team-building, and other skills preparatory to cross-cultural life and work
  • Current assignments with SIL International (2000-present)
    • Int’l Anthropology Consultant for SIL: Nepal and India
    • Development consultant for the ANQR Project, providing field teams with a set of language and culture field research guides (now called Culture-Language Field Research Guides)
  • Adjunct Professor
    • 2003-2006  TAFTEE (India- The Association For Theological Education by Extension)
      Cultural, socal, and applied anthropology courses and supervision of Masters’ Theses
    • 2000-2001 GIAL, Dallas Texas, USA
      Social and Political Organization
  • Director of Anthropological Studies, Wycliffe Training Programme, Horsleys Green, UK
    • 1986, 1987, 1997, 1999 (ten weeks each year in the General Course); European Training Course 2001
  • Visiting Professor of Anthropology, Westmont College,
    Santa Barbara, California, USA
    • 1996-8; Autumn 2003. Courses taught:
      Introductory Anthropology ; Anthropology of Africa;
      Anthropology of Latin America; Language and Society;
      Applied Anthropology; Anthropology and Missions
  • Adjunct Professor, Summer Institute of Linguistics, University of North Dakota, USA (1995)
    • Introductory Anthropology
    • Ethnographic methods for Field Linguists
  • Interim Director, Escuela de Linguistica, Universidad Mariano Galvez, Guatemala (1990 - 1991)
    • Developed program in response to University's request to SIL for academic assistance
    • Supervised programs at the profesorado and licentiatura levels in bilingual education and the study of the indigenous languages and cultures of Guatemala
    • All work conducted in Spanish
  • Adjunct Professor, Summer Institute of Linguistics, Univ. of Oklahoma, USA (1979 - 1982)
    • Introductory Anthropology
    • Ethnographic methods for Field Linguists
  • Instructor, Anthropology Department, University of New Hampshire, USA (1971 - 1973)
    • Introductory Anthropology; Art and Comparative Aesthetic Systems,
      World Ethnography Classics; Africa; North America


South Asia, Various locations (2001-2010) 
Courses: Introductory and Advanced Anthropology; Anthropology workshops, field consulting, cultural issues in translation, issues in orality and translation

East Asia, various locations (2001-2008)

Workshops in the use of the ANQR tools (see below) for relevant language/cultural research

Canada, Canada Institute of Linguistics (CANIL), Vancouver, Canada

Course: How Bible translation teams can use the ANQR Project for guided language and culture learning in the field


Workshop on cross-cultural teamwork: Co-facilitator with Dr Sherwood Lingenfelter

Guatemala (Guatemala City, Antigua, Chichicastenango) (1989-1990)

  • Approximately 16 months total field time in Guatemala, 1989-91
  • Additional six-month research on Maya revitalization movements, 1993-4

Africa (Ivory Coast, Togo, Sudan, Cameroon) (1984 - 1985)

  • Conducted field workshops in anthropological issues in Bible translation for SIL translation teams.
  • Supervised and helped edit writing projects for publication
  • Research interests: Islam in Africa, religious change, sociology of colonization

Mexico (Coahuila) (1979 - 1980)

  • Staff anthropologist for SIL field training programs. Spent nine months among rural and urban families near border city of Piedras Negras while working
  • Achieved FS 2 in Spanish by self-programmed language learning
  • Research interests:  Kinship in rural and urban north Mexico, arid zone ecology, US-Mexican border sociology

Mexico (Chiapas) (1975 - 1979)

  • Staff anthropologist for SIL cross-cultural field training programs among the Lowland Tzeltal (Maya).  FS 3 control of the Tzeltal language
  • Research interests:  Tzeltal kinship and social organization, religious change.

Belize (British Honduras) Brandeis University Summer Field Work Program 1965

  • Field work for Master’s degree: three months among the Garifanu (Black Carib) people of Stann Creek under the auspices of the Brandeis University Anthropology Department. Research interests: ethnicity, revitalization movements, local-level politics.




2010 Putting Words in Their Mouths: A Study of Native-Authored Halbi Radio Drama in Chhatisgarh, India. Paper presented at the GIAL Academic Forum, January 2010 and in process for publication. With Helen Thomas.
2007Our Company Increases Apace: History, Language, and Social Identity in Early Colonial Andover, Massachusetts. SIL International
2003Considerations in the Design of an Anthropology Course for Students in South Asia for Whom English is Second or Third Language. Paper presented at the annual TAFTEE consultancy, Bangalore, India
2000Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Models? What Christians can Learn From Cultural Evolutionists. Paper presented at the Christian Anthropologists’ Network meetings, Biola University, April 2000.
1999Update on the ANQR Project: Culture and Language Field Research Guides for Bible Translators. Notes on Anthropology #4:1
1998The ANQR Project: Cultural Research Guides for Translation Teams. On The Anthropology Bookshelf, LinguaLinks ™ SIL Software for Field Workers

Seventeenth-Century Andover: The People’s Point of View. Andover Historical Society Newsletter 20:4.

1995"Revindicamos nuestra cultura!" Teachings of the Maya Revitalization Movement in Chichicastenango, Guatemala. Paper presented at the SIL Symposium, University of North Dakota, July 1995.
1995A New Look at the Company: The Basic Unit of Social Organization in the Colonization of British North America." Paper presented at the American Anthropological Association Convention, Washington DC, November 1995.
1992Early Andover Social Structure. Andover Historical Society Newsletter 17:2.
1986Cultural Aids for Translators: The ANQR Charts. Notes on Translation #116:1-13.
1985Leviticus at Joppa: The Role of Assumptions in the Anthropology of Religion. Paper presented at the Joint Meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation and The Research Scientists’ Christian Fellowship, July 1985, Oxford
1985Close-Kin Marriage in Early Andover. Andover Historical Society Newsletter 10:3.
1979An Ethnographic Sketch of the Lowland Tzeltal of Chiapas, Mexico. Prepared for use in the Literacy Department, Summer Institute of Linguistics, Dallas, Texas.
1974Review of Philip Greven's Four Generations:  Land, Population, and Family in Colonial Andover, Massachusetts. American Anthropologist 76:593-4.