01.12.2007 -

Documenting and Preserving the Khang Language in Vietnam

@UNESCORecording Khang youth, ©UNESCO

The Khang ethnic minority, living in several provinces of Northwest Vietnam, is officially recognized by the government as one of the country’s most endangered cultures.

The Khang ethnic minority, living in several provinces of Northwest Vietnam, is officially recognized by the government as one of the country’s most endangered cultures. The approximately four thousand members of the group do not have a written version of their language, and intermarriage with other ethnic communities has imperiled its transmission to the younger generation--despite the fact that many Khang are eager to preserve their mother tongue. This project was undertaken to safeguard Khang language and culture by recording traditional elements like folk songs, developing an orthography using the Latin alphabet, preparing materials for teaching the language in the community and training local speakers to conduct classes.

Members of Khang communities assisted Vietnamese experts from the Vietnamese Association of Folklorists in compiling word lists and grammars, which were used to create bilingual photo books and other instructional materials. These books were put to work in language classes offered intially to more than fifty Khang people, in conjunction with the newly created rules of transcription and recordings of fluent Khang speakers. The community is already working to expand and improve this language education to revitalize the use of their mother tongue, an important step in preserving their cultural heritage.




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