This is the first ever systematic grammatical description of the Wutun
language, spoken by a compact population of some 4,000 individuals at
Wutun, Qinghai Province, China, also known as the Amdo region of ethnic Tibet.
Wutun is an aberrant variety of Northwest Mandarin. Its basic vocabulary
and the material resources of its grammar are mainly of a Chinese origin,
but structurally it has almost completely adapted to its current linguistic
environment, in which various local varieties of Amdo Tibetan are the
dominant oral idioms.
Wutun may be characterized as a topic-prominent serial-verb language with a
well-developed category of nominal case and a complex system of complement
verbs and auxiliaries. Its other properties include a highly diversified
consonant paradigm and the universally uncommon category of perspective.
The Wutun speakers are officially classified as members of the Tu
nationality, but culturally they are closely connected with the Tibetan
ethnicity. The locality of Wutun is an important center of Tibetan art and
learning, Wutun remains a living language supported by the whole local
community of all generations.