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Minority languages


Tsunku
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The Tibetan thread got me wondering . . .

Can anyone here speak a Minority language? I am trying to pick up a little bit of Dai, since I will need it to communicate with my boyfriend's parents, who don't speak putonghua. It's pretty hard to find resources for learning it though. I might be better off trying to learn Thai first, as they're fairly closely related.

I've met one person studying Uighur, and heard of another person who learned Dai while doing graduate research on a Dai village. I have Chinese friends in China studying various languages (one friend majors in Yi), and many friends who are fluent in other languages (Dai, Bai, Jingpo, Lisu to name a few), but have met very very few Westerners who know any Minority languages.

I kinda doubt I'll get much response, but I'm curious nonetheless. China has 56 Nationalities, most of them with their own languages (it's part of the criteria for being considered a nationality I believe). Those of you on this site who are ethnically Chinese, are you Han? If you're not Han, can you speak your nationality's language?

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How many manchurian speakers are there in china now?

I found the following on Omniglot's A Guide to Writing Systems

http://www.omniglot.com/writing/manchu.htm

There are currently about 9 million Manchus living in north-eastern China, of whom between 70 and 1,000 speak Manchu. Most speak only Chinese.

In Xinjiang in the west of China about 20,000 people of Manchu origin, who are known as Sibe, Xibo or Sibo, still speak Manchu. The Sibe were moved to the region in 1764 by the Ch'ing emperor Qianlong.

There are also Manchus in North Korea and Siberia.

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  • 2 weeks later...

one of the professors in the china studies program at the university of washington (i am an alum) speaks nuosu (liangshan yi). i wasn't in any of his classes (stevan harrell, professor of anthropology). in addition to mandarin he also knows southern min (hokkien) and cantonese. there are i am sure other 'westerners' who speak minority languages (especially considering the recent increase in books about chinese national minorites in the past few years in the u.s.).

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I've had no luck whatsoever with Dai. I know for a fact there's an academic or two out there that speak it, someone should write a book.

Any opinions on whether Chinese language materials might be useful? My Chinese reading skills are catching up to my spoken and listening skills thanks to an intensive class I'm taking in the states right now. I've never attempted to learn a language from a language that wasn't my first. In one of my English classes I had a Russian woman that was learning English from Chinese rather than Russian. I'm worried complicated grammar explanations might stump me, but that's probably thinking way too far ahead, I'll be lucky if I can get past the basics in Dai really.

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Is he the guy with the cafe who likes to talk about his cultural revolution stories? Does he speak Dai? Or are you thinking of Bai? ;) I used to confuse the two a lot. I was only in Dali for two days, so I didn't get a chance to spend much time getting to know people (although I did meet Mr. Ma, heh). I'd like to spend more time there when I go back to Yunnan.

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Yeah, that's the same guy with the cafe. He'll talk to anyone and everyone about his experiences if you go into his cafe, really interesting guy, I agree. It's great to sit down and talk to people like him, Xuan Ke (who is much maligned, but I think he's really hilarious. I visited his home in March, jeez what a palace!), and Dr. He in Lijiang. These older intellectuals have a ton of stories to tell.

The Dais are the group that live down south in Xishuangbanna. The language I'm trying to figure out how to learn is somewhat related to Thai, although how related, I'm not exactly sure. My boyfriend and his parents use it exclusively at home and it would be nice to be able to say at least a few basic things to them. I guess there's always the 18 hour bus ride down there for practice time.

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i was spacing off and read dai as bai, but then quickly corrected myself - hehe. i'm interested in ethnic minorities in china, and yunnan in particular. in grad school i wrote a paper called "Painting China's Minorities in the Service of Art, Politics, and Civilization" which was about how han chinese represent minorities in painting and woodblock prints.

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in grad school i wrote a paper called "Painting China's Minorities in the Service of Art, Politics, and Civilization" which was about how han chinese represent minorities in painting and woodblock prints.

You are refering to how Han Chinese have historically represented ethnic minorities in painting and woodblock prints, right? Also, if so, would you happen to have an electronic copy of your paper? Sounds interesting :-)

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my focus was on the 20th century from the beginning of the avant-garde in china during the republican period up thru the post-cultural revolution reform period, but i also mentioned some earlier representations. i have a copy somewhere (i think on my old 286 computer that is in a closet).

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The Dais are the group that live down south in Xishuangbanna. The language I'm trying to figure out how to learn is somewhat related to Thai, although how related, I'm not exactly sure.

In Thai "hello" is sawatdee. In Lao/Isaan it is sabaidee.

What do they say in Dai?

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just the other day when i was doing a search on minority languages, i came upon a reference to nuosu yi pop and rock music. i wonder if anyone would know anything about minority language rock music in particular and more generally pop in china (as an aside, i am also interested in all local language - as in chinese languages, non-mandarin dialects (with the exception of cantonese since its relatively common), and subdialects of mandarin - rock in china) as well as having any recordings.

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My boyfriend let me hear a tape of Dai pop music once. I'll ask him the name of the band, I can't remember it right now. I dunno if it would be anything you could buy easily outside of Xishuangbanna though.

Have you ever listened to Tibetan disco? I wouldn't say it's that good, but it's interesting. If you take busses around the Zhongdian area, the drivers all rock out to it. I sometimes put it on just for nostalgia's sake.

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Any opinions on whether Chinese language materials might be useful? My Chinese reading skills are catching up to my spoken and listening skills thanks to an intensive class I'm taking in the states right now. I've never attempted to learn a language from a language that wasn't my first.

Tsunku, I haven't tried studying any minority languages using Chinese-language materials, only regional dialect. No matter what your level of Chinese is, I think as long as you can use a dictionary, you'll be fine. But this isn't because the grammar explanations in books are very straightforward; this is because they're not there in the first place! (Though I guess it's not so bad for you since you can ask your boyfriend) Maybe it's just my bad experience, but as far as I've seen, language teaching materials written for Chinese-speakers (except those for English and Japanese, for which there are enormous demand and competition) tend to be of very low quality; even expensive, recently-published materials seem to be little better than categorized vocabulary lists or glorified phrase books, which don't even mention grammar.

Economic development probably isn't gonna do anything to this problem; I found the same thing among materials in Japan. After my (Taiwan-published!!!) book on Hokkien turned out to be mostly a bust, I bought a Japanese-written book on Hokkien instead. Which was just as bad, except it had an explanation of tone sandhi rather than my Chinese book's "listen carefully to the CD to notice tone changes." Similarly, after I got lost in my English-written Korean textbook's grammar explanations, I picked up a Japanese-written book my friend recommended, assuming that it would be able to explain Korean grammar much more clearly by drawing analogies to Japanese grammar. Nope, yet another glorified phrasebook with a few extra cultural notes.

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