LINGUIST List 7.560

Mon Apr 15 1996

Sum: Qiang

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <>


  1. EMMA, qiang people

Message 1: qiang people

Date: Mon, 15 Apr 1996 22:30:12 +0800
From: EMMA <>
Subject: qiang people
sometime ago, i posted a query here on Qiang language, and did receive
some responses to my private email address; however, my mailbin on
local Chinapac server is not always reliable, adn the notes were
trashed. I am hoping those who did respond will try again (please!)

emma zevik

EZ questions: For oral languages with no written form, are there
accepted standard practices in maintaining (or preserving) the
language? Specifically, I want to know in the case of Qiang language,
where each village seems to have its own dialect, quite distinct from
each other (and to my novice ears, these seem to be entirely different
languages??). The govt has put in place (two years ago) an
experimental program for primary school-age children (in two
villages), to learn Qiang language, with a standardized pinyin-type of
script. My question is "which Qiang language?' And how was it
selected? And what happens to the regional (or village-level)
dialects. In any case, for anyone to advance, s/he must know mandarin
at least, if not english, so where is the incentive for Qiang? Has the
chinese govt' "sanitized" Qiang to make it easier to administrate
(control or exploit might be other verbs to use here) and to smooth
out the language/culture for tourism ventures and their profits.

One local Han Chinese colleague I know, when I ran these questions by
him, explained patiently that this process I described was the only
way, the first step, to improve (i.e. unify) the condition of the
minority people and at the same time, a way to preserve the
culture. Even with my neophyte linguistic (non)background, as an
ethnomusicologist I just can't agree with this poistion. My question
remains: "*whose* culture?" I realize of course, this is *not* unique
to China; it is the same issue in U.S. and elsewhere across the

thanks again,

Dr. Emma Zevik, Visiting Professor
Ethnomusicology and Composition
Sichuan Conservatoryof Music
No. 6 Xinsheng Road
Chengdu, Sichuan 610021 CHINA
FAX (86) (28) 558-2712 TEL (86) (28) 558-1380 x2326 (h)
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