Ersu and Xumi: Comparative and Cross-Varietal Documentation of Highly Endangered Languages of South-West China

The Endangered Language Documentation Programme (ELDP) provides grants worldwide to for the linguistic documentation of endangered language and knowledge. Grantees create multimedia collection of endangered languages. These collections are preserved and made freely available through the Endangered Languages Archive (ELAR) housed at the library of SOAS University of London.

The project studies two language clusters of multi-ethnic and multi-lingual western Sichuan (China): (1) Ersu, comprising the mutually unintelligible Ersu, Tosu, and Lizu languages; (2) Xumi, comprising two diverse varieties with restricted mutual intelligibility. All four languages are endangered. The project yields corpora of audio, video, and text data, primarily of the moribund Tosu (4 speakers) and the severely endangered Xumi (circa 1,000 proficient speakers), and (1) sketch grammars of Tosu, Xumi, Lizu; (2) a collection of Ersu stories; (3) two comparative dictionaries (Ersu-Lizu-Tosu; Xumi), with Mandarin and English translations; and (4) pedagogical materials for Tosu. Primary investigator: Katia Chirkova

Project Details


Location: China, China, Mexico, China, Central America, Eastern Asia, Asia, Americas Organiser(s): Endangered Languages Documentation Programme Project partner(s): CNRS - Centre de recherches linguistiques sur l'asie orientale (CRLAO - UMR 8563), Paris Funder(s): Arcadia Funding received: £90,712.00 Commencement Date: 01/2009
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