Barbara Hollenbach was born Barbara Elaine Erickson in the Borough of Queens, New York City, and grew up there, graduating from Richmond Hill High School in 1953.  She attended Houghton College in western New York State, graduating with a B.A. in classical languages and psychology in 1957. 

In 1958 she joined the Summer Institute of Linguistics, and in preparation for fieldwork, studied at the University of Michigan, where she received an M.A. in linguistics in 1960.  She began fieldwork in San Juan Copala, in the district of Juxtlahuaca, Oaxaca, in November 1962, studying the variety of Trique spoken there.  In 1966 she married Bruce Hollenbach, and together they continued fieldwork in that language.

In 1981 she began doctoral studies at the University of Arizona, and received a Ph.D. in linguistics in 1984.  Her dissertation was entitled, “The Phonology and Morphology of Tone and Laryngeals in Copala Trique.” 

In 1996 she and her husband began fieldwork in Magdalena Peñasco, a municipio in the district of Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca, studying the variety of Mixtec spoken there. 

She has published various materials on both of these languages, both in English and in Spanish.  When speaking Spanish, she uses the Spanish form of her middle name, Elena, and materials published in Spanish give the author’s name as either Elena E. de Hollenbach or Elena Erickson de Hollenbach.  (See selected bibliography.)  In Spanish, her husband uses the name Fernando. 

In addition to fieldwork in these two languages, she has also served as a linguistic advisor and editor, working with colleagues in the Mexico Branch of SIL to produce articles about indigenous languages, and especially grammars of these languages written in Spanish.  In 1995 she directed a workshop on writing popular grammars in Otomanguean languages, and a number of grammars begun at that workshop have since been published.  Barbara has also taught linguistics, and she served as literacy coordinator for the Mexico Branch of SIL from 1993 to 2002.

Bruce & BarbaraShe and her husband retired at the beginning of 2012, and she has continued bringing projects begun earlier to completion.  Barbara’s major current research interest is comparative and historical Mixtec, but her interests extend to other Otomanguean languages, and also to tone languages, lexicography, and salvage linguistics.  One of her retirement dreams is to continue with the analysis and translation into Spanish of a Mixtec catechism published in 1567.  She enjoys reading, writing, swimming, and birding.  Barbara and her husband currently make their home in Bonner Springs, Kansas.

          Bruce and Barbara