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Documentation of Yonghe Qiang language and culture

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Language Qiang
Depositor Nathaniel Sims
Affiliation University of California Santa Barbara
Location China
Collection ID 0551
Grant ID IGS0333
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle



Summary of the collection

Yonghe Qiang, is spoken in the Yonghe valley in western Sichuan China. This collection includes materials collected in 2018.

The data was collected by Nathaniel Sims in collaboration with community members Long Deyue and Bai Jianqiong.


Group represented

This collection focuses on speakers from Yonghe valley in southwestern Mao County, Sichuan China. Qiang varieties are internally diverse and are not mutually intelligible. While other varieties of Qiang have been well documented, the Yonghe variety is entirely undocumented.


Language information

Qiang varieties are spoken in the mountainous region along the upper Min river in the Rngaba Qiang-Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of western Sichuan, China. The area in which Qiang is spoken spans five counties: Wenchuan, Li, Mao, Songpan, and Heishui. It belongs to the Qiangic branch of Tibeto-Burman, though the exact phylogeny remains to be worked out.

The Yonghe variety is spoken in southwestern Mao County in the Yonghe valley. The valley has 3,000 residents, though the number of speakers is Like other Qiang varieties, Yonghe Qiang has a set of directional verbal prefixes which indicate the direction of motion and have also grammaticized into markers of mood and aspect. The language is largely agglutinative with some degree of fusion.

Qiang is rapidly being replaced by Sichuanese Mandarin. Reasons for language-shift include: compulsory Chinese-only education, increased access to Chinese-language media, new roads which increase ease of transportation, movement to urban areas for migrant work, and a low degree of intelligibility between varieties. In 2008, the Wenchuan earthquake devastated the area and many Qiang speakers lost their lives. Post-earthquake reconstruction and development has also contributed to the increasingly rapid loss of local culture.

Within Yonghe valley, there are 18 villages with populations ranging from about 120 to 350. The southernmost 6 villages are nearly completely linguistically Sinicized. The 3 villages in the central valley are an advanced state of shift. In the northernmost 6 villages, some children are still acquiring the language, though it is unclear to what extent.


Collection contents

This collection will contain recordings of people giving consent to be recorded. These recordings will primarily be in Sichuanese Mandarin. The remainder of the deposit is in Yonghe Qiang.


Collection history

The data for this collection was collected during the doctoral research of Nathaniel Sims, the principal investigator.


Acknowledgement and citation

To refer to any data from the collection, please cite as follows:

Sims, Nathaniel A. 2018. Yonghe Qiang language and culture: a collection of language and cultural material from the Qiang people of Yonghe valley in Rgnaba Prefecture, Mao County, Sichuan, China. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

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