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Bih Documentation Project

 

Language
Depositor Tam Nguyen
Affiliation Independent researcher
Location Vietnam
Deposit ID 0354
Grant ID IGS0072
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Forthcoming

 

Summary of the deposit

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 corpus with data from some of elderly Bih speakers in the village and two annotated videos from a Bih family in the village.

 

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 people have to use Ede to communicate with their children and 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 exciting to listen to these folktales as they did not have a chance to know their traditional folktales before. However, although the audio CDs are available to the community, there is no other product from this collection available to them yet. Tam Nguyen plans on a project for future products such as a bilingual folktales book published in Bih and Ede for the community in the future.

 

Deposit 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 fiction narratives

+ 17 minutes of personal narratives.

+ 21 minutes of conversations when Bih people make their traditional mats.

 

Deposit history

The data for this collection was collected during the graduate research of Tam Nguyen, the principal investigation. 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 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 as the 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 collection, please cite the as follows:

Nguyen, Tam. 2019. Bih Documentation Project. London: SOAS University of London, Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/2196/00-0000-0000-000F-BF37-5. Accessed on [insert date here].

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