Eastbridge Books, an imprint of Camphor Press, is pleased to announce the publication of its Dungan-English Dictionary, by Olli Salmi.
Dungan is interesting for Chinese studies because it has an alphabetic orthography. It is also important because it shows very little influence from the Chinese literary language. It has preserved original features of the local dialects of about 150 years ago. It also has loans from Persian and Arabic, from Turkic languages, and from Russian.
The Dungans are Muslims who fled China for Russian territory in Central Asia after the failure of the Dungan Revolt (1862-1877). Their language, which UNESCO classifies as “definitely endangered,” is related to northwestern Mandarin Chinese. Dungan has two main dialects: the so-called Gansu dialect, which is similar to the Muslim Chinese communal dialects in the southern part of the province of Xinjiang, and the Shaanxi dialect, which has more in common with the dialects of southern Shaanxi around Xi’an. In the Soviet Union an alphabetic orthography and a literary language was developed for the Gansu dialect.
Although Dungan is now spoken primarily outside of China and employs an alphabet rather than Chinese characters, it is not really a peripheral dialect of Chinese. The Dungan Revolt started near Xi’an, Shaanxi, the cradle of the Chinese civilization and a frequent site of the capital of the country. (This is where the terracotta soldiers were buried.) The speakers that gave rise to Gansu Dungan came from a place west of the Shaanxi speakers, but still a totally Chinese-speaking area.
This dictionary is based on words and examples collected from Dungan-language newspapers and books published before the fall of the Soviet Union. Special attention has been paid to not only vocabulary (9,945 headwords) but also grammatical features; the dictionary may even provide material for the study of syntax. An effort has been made to find characters for Dungan words in dialect dictionaries published in China.
This work is available through Camphor Press and Amazon.
Note: I am part of Camphor Press and so stand to make a small amount of money from sales of this book. But that’s not why I’m recommending it to everyone interested in Dungan.
The most recent release from the archives of Sino-Platonic Papers is a particular favorite of mine, Two Non-Tetragraphic Northern Sinitic Languages (2.6 MB PDF), by Victor H. Mair. In case that title sounds a little technical, in layman’s terms the title might be A Couple of Languages Closely Related to Mandarin that Are Not Written with Chinese Characters (Which Many People Mistakenly Believe Are Essential for Such Languages), with One of Them Having Been Successfully Written with an Alphabet for Many Decades.
This issue also contains “A Short Supplementary Note on the Name ‘Tibet.'” The subject of the essay probably sounds perfectly innocuous. But it set off a few rounds of polite but pointed dueling among scholars — in the pages of a journal, that is, not with pistols at forty paces or anything of that sort. The exchanges make for interesting reading. See, for example, SPP 35 (“Reviews IV,” pp. 32-37) and SPP 70 (“Reviews VI,” pp. 21, 79-84).
Since earlier this month when I wrote a post on Dungan-language radio, I’ve discovered that Olli Salmi has some great Dungan material on his website, including a paper he wrote and a couple of stories in Dungan, including one he has translated into English.
The state radio station of Kyrgyzstan offers a weekly broadcast in Dungan, which is basically a spin-off of northwestern Mandarin with lots of loan words from Persian, Arabic, and Russian. Of particular interest is that the language — which, permit me to note again, is basically Mandarin — is written with an alphabet (at present, one based on the Cyrillic alphabet). Chinese characters are of course not necessary and are not used. For details of the language, script, and people, see Implications of the Soviet Dungan Script for Chinese Language Reform, by Victor H. Mair, and Ethnolinguistic Notes on the Dungan, by Lisa E. Husmann and William S-Y. Wang (available online in Schriftfestschrift: Essays in Honor of John DeFrancis on His Eightieth Birthday, pp. 71-84).
The Dungan radio show is broadcast on Mondays between 6:35 and 7:05 p.m., Taipei time (4:35-5:05 a.m. U.S. central standard time). The show usually starts closer to 6:40 and ends about 7:03.
Words like fangyan, putonghua, Hanyu, Guoyu, and Zhongwen have been the source of considerable perplexity and dissension among students of Chinese language(s) in recent years. The controversies they engender are compounded enormously when attempts are made to render these terms into English and other Western languages. Unfortunate arguments have erupted, for example, over whether Taiwanese is a Chinese language or a Chinese dialect. In an attempt to bring some degree of clarity and harmony to the demonstrably international fields of Sino-Tibetan and Chinese linguistics, this article examines these and related terms from both historical and semantic perspectives. By being careful to understand precisely what these words have meant to whom and during which period of time, needlessly explosive situations may be defused and, an added benefit, perhaps the beginnings of a new classification scheme for Chinese language(s) may be achieved. As an initial step in the right direction, the author proposes the adoption of “topolect” as an exact, neutral translation of fangyan.
Feel free to print out a copy of the Schriftfestschrift for your own use or for inclusion in a library. Just don’t sell it.
The original publication contained several color photos. I’ll add those later. Also, the English tex is searchable to some degree, as I used OCR after scanning these pages; but the results weren’t perfect.
Here are the contents:
Introduction, by Victor H. Mair
Publications of John DeFrancis
Hanzi Bu Tebie Biaoyi, by Zhang Liqing
Typology of Writing Systems, by Zhou Youguang
Dui Hanzi de Jizhong Wujie, by Yin Binyong
The Information Society and Terminology, by Liu Yongquan
A Bilingual Mosaic, by Einar Haugen
The Polysemy of the Term Kokugo, by S. Robert Ramsey
Memorizing Kanji: Lessons from a Pro, by J. Marshall Unger
Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard, by David Moser
Ethnolinguistic Notes on the Dungan, by Lisa E. Husmann and William S-Y. Wang
Korean Views on Writing Reform, by Wm. C. Hannas
Language Policies and Linguistic Divergence in the Two Koreas, by Ho-min Sohn
Okinawan Writing Systems, Past, Present, and Future, by Leon A. Serafim
Proposal of a Comparative Study of Language Policies and Their Implementation in Singapore, Taiwan, and China (PRC), by Robert L. Cheng
The Topical Function of Preverbal Locatives and Temporals in Chinese, by Feng-fu Tsao
Yes-No Questions in Taipei and Peking Mandarin, by Robert M. Sanders
Patronizing Uses of the Particle ma: Bureaucratic Chinese Bids for Dominance in Personal Interactions, by Beverly Hong Fincher
Gender and Sexism in Chinese Language and Literature, by Angela Jung-Palandri
A zhezi Anagram Poem of the Song Dynasty, by John Marney
Some Remarks on Differing Correspondences in Old Chinese Assumed to Represent Different Chinese Dialects, by Nicholas C. Bodman
Can Taiwanese Recognize Simplified Characters?, by John S. Rohsenow
Simplified Characters and Their (Un)relatedness, by Chauncey C. Chu
The Teaching of Culture and the Culture of Teaching: Problems, Challenges, and Opportunities in Language Instruction, by Eugene Eoyang
The Culture Component of Language Teaching, by Kyoko Hijirida
Thinking About Prof. John DeFrancis, by Apollo Wu
Wo suo Renshi de De Xiansheng, by Chih-yu Ho
Two Poems for Professor John DeFrancis, by Richard F. S. Yang