3 New Books Document Manchu-Tungusic Languages, Feature Multilingual Glossaries

A conference was recently held in Beijing by China Social Sciences Press to celebrate the publication earlier this year of three scholarly works of interest to researchers of Manchu-Tungus languages (研讨会). They are all authored by Dulor Osor Chog (aka Chao Ke, 朝克) an Evenki who holds a Ph D. in Japanese Culture and Language … Continue reading 3 New Books Document Manchu-Tungusic Languages, Feature Multilingual Glossaries

June Training Sessions: Authors of Five Major non-Han Languages Meet their Translators

During June 5-9, Nationalities Literature Magazine (民族文学) organized an intensive “editing/rewriting training course” (改稿班) that brought together the magazine’s editors with twenty-plus Kazakh writers and their translators. Mandarin and Kazakh aside, the magazine appears in Mongolian, Korean, Tibetan and Uyghur, and training sessions for writers and translators of the latter four languages are also scheduled to … Continue reading June Training Sessions: Authors of Five Major non-Han Languages Meet their Translators

Minority Language Big Dictionary Project: Linguistic Reference Tools, Encyclopedias or Vaporware?

As of early May 2014, China has published its first Wa-Mandarin dictionary, according to a report by China Nationalities Newspaper republished at Chinawriter.cn (佤汉大辞典问世). According to Wikipedia, the Wa (佤族) reside mainly in Burma (800,000), China’s Yunnan (400,000) and Thailand (10,000). Like many of the peoples in China’s border areas, they had no widely used … Continue reading Minority Language Big Dictionary Project: Linguistic Reference Tools, Encyclopedias or Vaporware?

Teaching of Minority Languages in China a Touchy Subject

There is a sizable population of Tibetans in truly multi-ethnic Yunnan, and I was keen to take advantage of this and learn a bit of Tibetan alongside my studies of classical Chinese in Kunming back in 2012. The head of my private language school had difficulties finding a teacher, however, because he utterly refused to … Continue reading Teaching of Minority Languages in China a Touchy Subject

Daur Dictionary Revamp on the Cards

A brief news item on January 13, 2014, 《达斡尔语辞典》征求专家修订意见, informs us that a meeting was recently held at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences where experts were invited to discuss revising the existing 《达斡尔语辞典》, a dictionary of the Daur language. It took more than three decades to compile, and a contact of mine tells me it … Continue reading Daur Dictionary Revamp on the Cards

Candidates for Romanized Zhuang Exam: Few and Far Between

Some 318 candidates took part in Dec 6 exams testing literacy in the written Zhuang language held in Guangxi’s Nanning and Baise, according to a report in Nationalities Newspaper (会说不会写). Mind you, that’s a microscopic figure for a people who reportedly number around 18 million speakers. The most numerous non-Han ethnicity in China, the Zhuang … Continue reading Candidates for Romanized Zhuang Exam: Few and Far Between

Capturing Endangered Tongues of Yunnan

After decades of Chinese central government policies that baldly aimed at replacing non-Han languages with Mandarin, or at best simply tolerated their existence, real money is apparently now being spent to document and preserve them in ways that meet international standards. According to an article published at Chinawriter.com.cn (临危语言), several linguists from the Yunnan Endangered Languages … Continue reading Capturing Endangered Tongues of Yunnan

Teaching Mongolian in the PRC: Written Trumps Spoken & Befuddles the Foreign Learner

The khanbaliqist has written an informative and witty post, Spelling Pronunciations as a Method of Teaching, based on his own experiences learning Mongolian on the ground . . . in Inner Mongolia, I believe. His description of how written Mongolian is emphasized—almost to the point of banning spoken Mongolian from the classroom—reminds me of my … Continue reading Teaching Mongolian in the PRC: Written Trumps Spoken & Befuddles the Foreign Learner

Echoes of Samarkand: Salar Literary Conference Held in Qinghai

A conference highlighting writing by Salar authors  (撒拉族文学) was held in January 2013 in Xunhua County (循 化), Qinghai Province, home to most of the 100,000 Salar  (撒拉族) who consider themselves descendants of Muslims who migrated in the 13th century from Samarkand (present-day Uzbekhistan, and once home to Omar Khayyam) in search of religious freedom. Subsequent contacts … Continue reading Echoes of Samarkand: Salar Literary Conference Held in Qinghai

By the Numbers: Endangered Tongues in the People’s Republic

In <四成少数民族语言临危,> Wang Bo at Chinanews.com reports that up to four of ten languages native to minorities in China are threatened with extinction. Here are a few numbers that appear in the report: Non-han languages: 55 officially designated “peoples” (民族) speak an estimated 130 languages Scripts in use: 40, including Mongolian, Tibetan, Uighur, Kazakh, Kirghiz, … Continue reading By the Numbers: Endangered Tongues in the People’s Republic