DESCRIPTION OF THE RESEARCH PROJECT(S)
Dzardzongke or South Mustang Tibetan (SMT) (ca. 1800 speakers) is a severely endangered language spoken in a number of villages in South Mustang, Nepal. It is related to Loke/Lowa, another language of the Bodish branch of the Sino-Tibetan language, which is also an endangered language spoken in Upper Mustang. Most speakers of SMT are fluent in Nepali and Seke as well and SMT is not used in writing or education, putting it in a very precarious situation. Due to economic difficulties in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake and the current pandemic, speakers are rapidly leaving the villages to find employment in Kathmandu and abroad. This is having a disastrous effect on the local language and cultural traditions, which is why this project aims to acquire audio-visual materials that will help preserve the local language and unique pre-Buddhist Bon cultural tradition. This project has three main outcomes: high-quality audio-visual materials with transcription, translation and linguistic annotation, the first-ever book written in Dzardzongke with linguistic and anthropological introductions and a school textbook and story books to faciliate teaching SMT-speaking children in their own language. The outputs will benefit both the SMT language community and researchers in the field of (Tibeto-Burman) linguistics.
PRINCIPAL RELEVANT PUBLICATIONS
An Audio-Visual archive of Dzardzongke Meelen, Marieke & Ramble, Charles. 2022. An Audio-Visual Archive of Dzardzongke (South Mustang Tibetan). Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/2196/aa07e8d9-de4a-4820-af20-a34054068b91.
WHY/HOW DOES YOUR PROJECT ADVANCE OUR KNOWLEDGE ON BILINGUALISM/MULTILINGUALISM/CONTACT?
All speakers of Dzardzongke are multilingual: in many villages, speakers grow up speaking Dzardzongke and Standard Tibetan, but as soon as they go to school, they switch to Nepali and then English. In our project, we compare Dzardzongke varieties from villages with a lot of contact to more isolated communities to see how contact impacts language change. This will advance our knowledge on multilingualism and language contact of endangered languages.
WHAT IS THE SOCIAL IMPACT OF YOUR PROJECT?
An Audio-Visual Archive of Dzardzongke
First SMT school textbook and story books: A selection of the narrated Kretschmar stories will be used to create the first teaching materials in South Mustang Tibetan. We will furthermore create a simple introductory SMT school textbook using the template other ethnic minorities in Nepal have recently adopted since teaching native languages is now finally allowed by law. We will publish and print these educational materials for schools in the villages and provide the teachers with accessible audio recordings of the narrated stories as well to enhance the learning experience.
We developed a romanised orthography for Dzardzongke in collaboration with local speakers, which will help speakers to achieve the rights of minority groups.
LOCATION AND/OR IMPACT OF YOUR PROJECT