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Eastern Minyag, an endangered language of Western Sichuan

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Chen Wei’s uncle and mother pound rice for New Year. (Photo Credit: Chen Wei). Click on image to access collection.


Language Eastern Minyag (ISO639-3:emq)
Depositor Agnes Conrad, Chen Wei
Affiliation Qinghai Nationalities University, Southwest University for Nationalities
Location China
Collection ID 0637, 0682
Grant ID SG0532, IGS0388
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle




Blog post

Community Member Bios: Wang Baobao (Chen Wei)


Summary of the collection

English: Eastern Minyag is an endangered Tibeto-Burman language a spoken by no more than 1,000 individuals living in a cluster of villages located in Shimian County, Sichuan, China. This collection contains audio-visual documentation of over 50 hours of oral literature, songs, handicraft production, and spontaneous conversations collected from different villages representing dialectical variation within the speaking area. Simplified Chinese translations are available for almost all recordings. Phonetic transcriptions and analyses of 5 hours of translated materials are available in ELAN files and a FLEx database. English and Written Tibetan translations are also available for select recordings. Data was primarily collected by community member and native speaker Chen Wei, with technical assistance provided by Agnes and Winifred Conrad.

中文: 储存汇总表

东明雅格语是一种濒临灭绝的藏缅语,在中国四川省石棉县的一个村庄里,使用这种语言的人不超过1000人。这个收藏包含了超过50小时的口头文学、歌曲、手工艺和自发的对话从不同村庄收集而来,证明语言区域内的语言变化。但几乎所有的录音都有简体中文翻译。音标和对5小时翻译材料的分析可在ELAN文件和FLEx数据库中找到。精选的录音也有英文和藏文的书面翻译。数据主要由社区成员、母语者陈伟收集,技术援助由Agnes和Winifred Conrad提供。


Group represented

English: Eastern Minyag is spoken fluently by perhaps no more than 1,000 individuals living in 12 or so villages in western Shimian County, Sichuan Province, China. An undetermined number of speakers reside across the county’s western border in Jiulong County. The speaking area lies to the east of Mt. Gongga, a local holy mountain.

Eastern Minyag speakers are officially recognized as ethnic Tibetans by the national government. They are practitioners of a form of Bön (a debated, aggregate label for the various pre-Buddhist religious practices found across the Tibetan Plateau). Both local family lineage histories and linguistic comparison suggest historical ties with speakers of Western Minyag, a language spoken to the west of Mt. Gongga. The languages share an endonym (mɨɲa), which may also be used to refer to members of the speaker community (mɨɲa-wa). It is believed that restrictions on certain ritual practices – particularly animal sacrifice – may have prompted the families of ritual knowledge holders to move east, but the approximate time of this move remains highly speculative. Eastern Minyag speakers retain limited ties with the southeastern-most area of Western Minyag speakers, but the languages are not mutually intelligible.

中文: 族群简介


讲述东部木雅语的人被政府官方正式认定为藏族。他们是本教信仰的践行者(这是一个存在争议的、综合的说法,是指各派佛教在青藏高原上被发现之前的宗教实践)。当地的家族血统历史和语言比对都表明,他们和贡嘎山西部的木雅语使用者有着历史联系。这两种语言都有一个共同的后缀(mɨɲa),它也可以用来指代使用该语言的社区成员(mɨɲa-wa)。人们相信,对某些仪式进行限制 – 尤其是动物祭祀 – 可能促使这些倾向动物祭祀仪式的家庭东迁,但是迁移的大致时间是可以较为正确推测的。东部雅语区域和西部木雅语的东南部仍保持着有限的联系,但是语言交流不能相互理解。


Language information

English: Eastern Minyag, sometimes referred to as Shimian Minyag, is a virtually unstudied language spoken in a mountainous rural area of Shimian County, Sichuan Province, China. Owing to a shared name, Eastern Minyag was previously considered to be a dialect of Minyag (mvm), with which it is mutually unintelligible but likely related. Eastern Minyag is most likely a Tibeto-Burman language. Its phonology appears to have influenced by the neighboring Ersu and its historical relationship with other languages in the family is unclear. The exact details of the language situation of Eastern Minyag are unclear, but it will soon be severely endangered. The number of fluent speakers may number no more than 1000. The majority of these speakers are over the age of forty with few monolingual speakers. The language is only sporadically being passed on to the youngest generation and it has received very little scholarly attention. In many of this deposit’s recordings, speakers use Southwest Mandarin alongside Eastern Minyag.

中文: 语言信息

东部木雅,有时也会被称为石棉木雅, 事实上几乎没有被研究过。 因为有一个共同的语言地名, 在mvm语言代码下, 东部木雅语被认为是西部木雅语的一种方言。 当地口述史和最初的比较表明了两种木雅语之间的关系。 至少可以清楚地看到, 东部木雅语是一种藏缅语, 而且它与周边羌语扩散地区有明显的区域性特征,如定向前缀。 但与该地区的许多语言不同, 它没有小舌音或卷舌辅音。 其他确切的语言情况细节, 包括确切的使用人数和东部木雅语的辩证差异尚不清楚。 这种语言只是偶尔传给年轻一代, 随着人口老龄化, 使用这种语言的人可能不到1000人, 这种语言可能很快就会严重濒危。


Special characteristics

English: Recordings were primarily accomplished with elderly speakers whose knowledge of oral literature, song, and local family histories are no longer being passed on to younger generations in the Eastern Minyag language. Data found in this deposit has been collected almost entirely collected by Chen Wei, a young native speaker who has been documenting language and cultural traditions in his hometown since 2018. Recordings collected by Chen Wei exhibit a high degree of naturalness.

中文: 存储特征



Collection contents

English: This collection includes materials from two separate ELDP grants.

0637: Materials in this collection include roughly 20 hours of audio recordings and 10 hours of video documenting folk stories, rituals, local histories, songs, spontaneous conversation, and discussions on the origin of the Minyag-speaking people. Video recordings include footage from two Bön religious festivals available at the discretion of representative community members. With the exception of materials covering rituals and ceremonies, almost all of this material has been time-aligned in ELAN and translated into Standard Chinese. Over half of the materials include English translations, and a lesser number include Standard Written Tibetan translations.

0682: Materials are currently being collected and will include 22 hours of audiovisual recording, 18 of which will be time-aligned in ELAN and translated into Standard Chinese. Of these, 8 hours will also be translated into English and 5 hours transcribed and annotated in FLEx. Recordings will cover elicitations, spontaneous conversations, folk stories, local histories, songs, traditional food and handicraft production, and facets of daily life. Importantly, materials collected for this project will be collected across the speaking area, thereby documenting dialectal differences. The primary investigator’s PhD thesis, A Descriptive Grammar of Eastern Minyag, and the co-depositor’s MA thesis on traditional Eastern Minyag Handicrafts will also be made available.

For Chinese speakers, a video providing an introduction to the language, speakers, and speaking area produced by project depositor and Eastern Minyag speaker, Chen Wei, is available on the collection homepage.

中文: 存储内容





Collection history

English: Documentation represented in this collection began in August, 2018 under the auspices of an ELDP small grant project documenting Western Minyag (SG0532) awarded to Agnes Conrad from July 2018-July 2019. During the PI’s first trip to the speaking area in July 2018, it was discovered that Eastern Minyag was mutually unintelligible with Western Minyag. Chen Wei, a young speaker and community member joined the project, accomplishing recordings, and subsequent time-aligning and translation of files in ELAN independently until May 2019. English translations were then accomplished from the Chinese by Winifred Conrad. Tibetan translations were accomplished from the Chinese by Dolma Kyab.

Recordings added to the collection after 2022 were accomplished with the support of a subsequent grant from ELDP (IGS0682) awarded to Agnes Conrad and Chen Wei (2022-2023) to document Eastern Minyag varieties.

中文: 存储历史

本馆藏中的文档于2018年8月在ELDP小额赠款项目的主持下开始,该项目记录了2018年7月至2019年7月授予Agnes Conrad的西部木雅语研究(SG0532)。首席田野调查员于2018年7月首次访问该语言区域期间,发现东部木雅语与西部木雅语相互无法理解。年轻的东部木雅语使用者,社区成员陈伟加入了该项目,在ELAN中独立完成了录音,随后的时间校对和文件翻译,直到2019年5月。然后由Winifred Conrad从中文完成英文翻译。藏文翻译是由卓玛·嘉布(Dolma Kyab)從中文中完成的。

2022年后添加到收藏中的录音是在ELDP(IGS0682)随后授予Agnes Conrad和Chen Wei(2022-2023)的赠款的支持下完成的,以记录东部Minyag不同变化。

在火鸟基金会的资助下,陈伟和Agnes Conrad(2019-2021)完成了2019年11月之后新增的录音收藏。这一命名为”东部木雅语口头传统”的项目将于2021年夏季提供30小时的录像记录。这些数据受到访问限制。


Acknowledgement and citation

English: In making use of any of the data found in this collection, users are requested to acknowledge Chen Wei as the principal investigator, and Agnes Conrad and Winifred Conrad as research assistants. Depending on the materials as discussed above, the user will acknowledge separate projects as the source. When using translated materials, the translator should be acknowledged. Relevant information can be found in the metadata.
Please cite this collection as follows:

Wei, Chen & Agnes Conrad. 2019. Eastern Minyag: an Endangered Language of Western Sichuan. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here]

Wei, Chen & Agnes Conrad. 2022. Documenting and Surveying Eastern Minyag Varieties. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

中文: 确认

在使用本集合中发现的任何数据时,请用户请确认陈伟为首席研究员,Agnes Conrad和Winifred Conrad为研究助理。根据上面讨论的材料用户将确认单独的项目作为来源。在使用翻译材料时,译者应得到认可。相关信息可以在元数据中找到。

请列举以下藏品: 陈伟和Agnes Conrad。 2019。木雅语:川西的一种濒危语言。濒危语言档案。处理:。访问 [插入日期在这里]。

请列举以下藏品: 陈伟和Agnes Conrad。 2022。东部木雅语种类的调查与记录。濒危语言档案。处理:。访问 [插入日期在这里]。


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