Rescuing a language from extinction: practical steps with the community for the revitalisation of (Western) Yugur

Event details

PhD Seminar

Date & time

Friday 05 October 2018


Basham Room


Yarjis (Norah) Xueqing Zhong


Yarjis (Norah) Xueqing Zhong

Yugur languages (NE, China) have undergone many important typological changes as a result of language contact and manifests in the many divergences with its genetically affiliated languages. Both Western (Turkic) and Eastern (Mongolic) Yugur are classified as critically endangered (Moseley, 2010), and maintaining these languages face challenges.

The principal objectives of this research are to study the present situation of the language and language itself; to add to the currently small amount of documentation of Western Yugur; to compile a small-scaled trilingual dictionary in Western Yugur, Mandarin Chinese and English whilst using the methods of modern practical and theoretical lexicography; and also write a sketch of grammar of the language. Therefore, this research consists of discussion of the language ecology and endangerment, community-based language maintenance efforts, practical orthography design and development, an introduction to the sounds, word-formation and morphosyntax of Western Yugur and concludes with the methods and processes in the creation of the trilingual dictionary, and some discussion on new ways of gathering and presenting the dictionary data. The dictionary would be both a repository of lexical and cultural knowledge, and a pedagogical tool for revitalising the Western Yugur.

In this pre-submission seminar, I will discuss the key information about the above topics, and will also discuss in particular morphosyntax, which will be modelled on a commonly occurring lexical category in Western Yugur, ideophones (both onomatopoeia and mimetics), in terms of their types, semantic features, word-formation, morphology and phonological processes.

Reference: MOSELEY, C. (ed.) 2010. Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger: Unesco.

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