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Altaic Peoples & Tales (阿尔泰各民族及其故事) Last Quarter of the Moon (额尔古纳河右岸)

“Last Quarter of the Moon”: Evenki Place Names behind the Hànzì

I grew up in places with names like “Winnetka” and “Sewickley,” spellings no doubt based on mangled transliterations

1,800+ Evenki place names: many inspired by Russian, Mongolian and Manchu

of old, even ancient Native American words. I vaguely recall that Sewickley meant “sweet water,” but no one seemed sure.

How many cities, mountains and rivers in China, I wondered, hide their non-Han origins?

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Non-Han Languages in China (中国少数民族语言)

Tungusic Languages Under Threat: Statistics, Research Projects, Strategies for Protection

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

大经费投入培养后背高层次人才(赵阿平)

  • Proposals for measures such as bilingual education and establishment of a “linguistic and cultural eco-protection zone” for threatened Tungusic tongues.

不放过田野记忆中任何一个原始符号(朝克)

探访满语“活化石”:黑龙江三家子村考察记(曾红、郝欣)

  • History of field research in San Jia Village since the 1960s, famous for its population of native — but aging — Manchu speakers.

抢救临危语言就是抢救人类文化(郝欣、曾红)

  • 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.
Categories
Non-Han Languages in China (中国少数民族语言)

Tibetan, Daur, Evenki and Oroqen Databases Appraised by Experts

According to China’s Ministry of Education (数据库), several minority language projects underway during the current 12th Five-year Plan (2011-15) have been appraised and approved by experts. They are:

  • Database of Modern Tibetan Grammar Research (现代藏语语法信息辞典数据库研究)
  • Database of Daur, Evenki and Oroqen Voice Acoustic Parameters (达斡尔、鄂温克和鄂伦春语语音声学参数数据库)

Undertaken by the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (中国社会科学院民族学与人类学研究所), applications for these databases include promotion of minority language education, language engineering research, and in the case of the Tibetan database, text annotation and machine translation.