LINGUIST List 8.825

Tue Jun 3 1997

FYI: Akha lang, Endangered langs url

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <>


  1. Matthew McDaniel, Preserving the Akha Language
  2. Bryan Gick, Endangered Languages web page

Message 1: Preserving the Akha Language

Date: Tue, 27 May 1997 23:41:42 +0700
From: Matthew McDaniel <>
Subject: Preserving the Akha Language

Dear Friends:

I have resided in Northern Thailand at Maesai for the last six years.
My primary objective is the preservation of the Akha people, their
culture and their way of life. I am attempting to do this by focusing
on the preservation of their language. (I am not a part of a mission

I saw real problems with the access to the written language and
desired to establish a wide based literacy program. Although I am not
a linguist by training, I have worked extensively with the Akha to
design a new script that would allow for ease of writing and concise
choice of sounds.

Over six years we have progressed to the point where we think we have
98% of all the sounds, though there are variations between Burma and
Thailand. We have not yet addressed the issue of the dialects in Laos
and Vietnam. The sounds of the Akha in China along the Burmese border
are similar to those in Keng Tung if you don't count the Hani.

At any rate, our goal to make the written language widely accessable
to the young people and not solely restricted to published religious
texts has met with a lot of assistance and acceptance on the part of
many of the Akha although those of particular religious affiliation
have not necessarily been happy about what it represents.

We are in need of more funding for payment of Akha informants and
tranlsators who can assist on our progressing dictionary and grammar

We have finished an Akha Children's Workbook which is in use and are
finishing our final editing on an Akha Children's Phrase Book.
Although many Akha are desiring to learn English we find that
reinforcement of the Akha language helps all around no matter what
else they wish to learn.

There is an incredible opportunity at this time to make a very large
collection of Akha knowledge through recorded interviews and the
writings of Akha's who enjoy that skill, but action must be taken
quickly if this is to be accomplished as the building of the
Thailand-Burma-China highway is rapidly changing the face of this
whole region and we feel sad about what we see happening to the Akha
as a result of these fast moving events. We are hoping that our
foundation work and literacy program can take hold before more of the
Akha Community and way of life is destroyed beyond repair.

We invite the comments of any and would very much like to hear from
those who would wish to keep in touch with our progress. As well,
being less than expert at aquiring funds we would enjoy hearing any
possible suggestions in that regard.

Please visit our web site as we build it, modify and temper it to
become more and more effective.


Matthew McDaniel

The Akha Heritage Foundation
Akha University - Maesai
397/1 Sailom Joi Rd.
Maesai, Chiangrai, Thailand 57130
Ph: 66-53-640-588
Fax: 66-53-733-332
Try the other line in case one is down temporarily ph or fax
Web Site:
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Message 2: Endangered Languages web page

Date: Mon, 2 Jun 1997 10:02:45 -0400 (EDT)
From: Bryan Gick <>
Subject: Endangered Languages web page

The Endangered Language Fund (ELF) announces a new web page, at:

In addition to membership information, calls for proposals,
descriptions of funded projects, etc., the new page will contain a
list of endangered language educational resources (cassette courses,
college courses, etc.). Please send any corrections or additions to
this resource list, or comments on other aspects of the web site, to ALL other questions about the Fund should be
sent to:
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