Documentation of the Southern Tujia Language of China
Shixuan Xu, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Major Documentation Project. Duration: 2004-2007. £34,889
This project will investigate and document one of the endangered languages of China: Southern Tujia. This language is spoken in the mountainous area of central south China, and has no literate traditions or adequate documentation. It currently is in the final phase of an apparently inexorable decline: the number of native speakers is less than 1000, and almost every remaining speaker is bilingual in Tujia and Chinese.
The general objectives of the project are: to obtain data on language structure, phonological, lexical, and grammatical features; to record audio of natural speech and folk literature; to collect the maximum information about the language and about traditional culture expressed through the language; and to document other aspects of the language for which inadequate information exists. A reference grammar, a Tujia-Chinese-English dictionary, and corpora of traditional oral literature, useful for both linguists and the speaker community, will be produced. Chinese will be used as the explanatory language in the grammars, and as the translation language for texts.