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Bih Documentation Project


Language Bih (ISO6393-3:ibh)
Depositor Tam Nguyen
Affiliation University of Oregon
Location Vietnam
Collection ID 0354
Grant ID IGS0072
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle


Summary of the collection

Bih, a Chamic language, is spoken in and around Buon Trap village in Krong Ana district, Dak Lak, Vietnam. This collection is a part of a documentation of the Bih language focusing on Bih folktales.

The data was collected by Tam Nguyen, a linguist and principal investigator, and Bih community members.

The collection includes an annotated audio documentation with data from some of elderly Bih speakers in the village and an annotated video documentation from a Bih family in the village. There is another video of the main consultant who cooked one traditional dish. That video has not annotated yet.


Group represented

The collection created within the Bih documentation project focusing on speakers of Bih in Buon Trap village, Krong Ana district, Dak Lak, Vietnam.

Bih was formerly considered a dialect of Ede (also called Rade, ISO 639-3:rad) as most Bih people have lost their language and speak only Ede, even in Buon Trap village where most Bih people live (except some Bih elderly fluent speaker who do not know much Rade.) Bih is now in danger of extinction as Bih people who consider themselves Bih ethnically, do not understand those elderly fluent speakers of Bih. In fact, these elderly people have to use Ede to communicate with their children and with others. There are only around ten fluent speakers of Bih and the youngest one is sixty-six years old. Bih people nowadays are aware of the disappearance of their language since some of these last fluent speakers passed away.


Language information

Bih is a highland Chamic language spoken by about 500 people mainly in the town of Buon Trap in the district of Krong Ana, Dak Lak province, Vietnam. Although Bih was considered as an Ede (Rade) dialect before, Nguyen (2013) provides a descriptive grammar indicating that Bih is a separate Chamic language, distinct from Ede. Bih is the only Chamic language to have retained all four Chamic presyllable vowels. As a result, Bih is the only Chamic language having only primary clusters inherited from Proto-Chamic and lacks the secondary clusters created by a reduction of an original disyllable form in Proto-Chamic, which occurs in other languages in the family including Ede. Plus, all voiced “aspirated” consonants in Proto-Chamic become voiceless in Bih, but not in Ede. In addition, although words in Bih mostly are monosyllabic, Bih still has a number of disyllabic words with the fossilized prefix pa- or ma- or both. The prefix pa- occurs only in Bih but not in Ede. These phonological and morphological features make Bih vocabulary different from that of Ede. Nguyen (2009) also provides some syntactic evidence for the differences between the two languages in some basic clausal constructions such as affirmation, negation and interrogation.

Because the differences noted above, native speakers of Ede are unable to understand Bih even though they belong to the same ethnic group. On the other hand, since Ede is the regional dominant language, many other ethnic groups can speak Ede including Bih speakers.


Special characteristics

Among a few last speakers of Bih, two of them who contributed mainly to this collection passed away. Bih community members were very excited to listen to these folktales as they did not have a chance to know their traditional folktales before. Tam Nguyen also plans on a future project for products such as a bilingual folktales book published in Bih and Rade for the communities.


Collection contents

The majority of bundles in this collection are audio recordings. There are 4 hours 36 minutes of narrative conversations which can be broken down as follows:

  • 4 hours of narratives
  • 17 minutes of personal narratives
  • 21 minutes of conversations when Bih people make their traditional mats


Collection history

The data for this collection was collected during the graduate research of Tam Nguyen, the principal investigator. The first set of data was collected from August 2008 to May 2009 after Tam Nguyen had been in the Bih community for about 4 months and found out that Bih was a distinct language from Rade. The second set of data was collected from June 2009 to October 2009 when Tam Nguyen got the extension for her graduate research.

Since Bih speakers are illiterate, it has taken a long time to transcribe the collection and translate it into Rade. The project trained two Rade speakers who could understand Bih to help with translation. Currently, Tam Nguyen is the only person who can work on Bih, Rade, and English versions of the text. The collection has not archived anywhere else and will be archived at ELAR.


Other Information

None of the data in this collection may be used for publishing.


Acknowledgement and citation

Users of any part of the collection should acknowledge Tam Nguyen as the principal investigator, data collector and researcher. Users should also acknowledge the Endangered Language Documentation Programme as the funder of the project. Individual speakers whose words are used should be acknowledged by name. Any other contributor who has collected, transcribed or translated the data or involved in any other way should be acknowledged by name. All information on contributors are available in the metadata.

To refer to any data from the corpus, please cite the corpus in this way:

Nguyen, Tam. 2019. Bih Documentation Project. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

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