Following a conference on the dire straits of Tungusic languages in China — virtually all of which are under threat — four very informative articles have just appeared on the Institute of Ethnic Literature site. Since they are in Chinese, I hope to summarize the best parts later, but for now, I site some basic statistics here, and follow with a brief description of the articles and list their URLs.
Tungusic languages in China: Hezhen, Evenki, Elunchun (Oroqen), Manchu and Xibe
Distribution: Heilongjiang, Liaoning, Jilin, Beijing, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang
Populations (2010 census): 10.6 million total, of which 10,387,958 Manchu; 190,481 Xibe; 30,875 Evenki; 8,679 Elunchun; and 5,354 Hezhen
Used as mother tongue: 30,000 persons
- Proposals for measures such as bilingual education and establishment of a “linguistic and cultural eco-protection zone” for threatened Tungusic tongues.
- Interview with Dr. Chao Ke, China’s leading expert on Tungusic languages and Evenki linguistics. He recently published three books on comparative Tungusic etymology, with multi-language glossaries.
- History of field research in San Jia Village since the 1960s, famous for its population of native — but aging — Manchu speakers.
- Details of discussion at the conference by experts in various Tungusic languages, including up-to-date assessments of the state of each of the major languages, and proposals on how to address the threat of extinction.