Hi guys! Time to catch up… and today’s endangered language, beginning with J, is Jiongnai.
Jiongnai (also Kiong Nai, Hualan Yao and Jiongnai Bunu) is a Hmongic (Miao) language spoken by around 1,000 (Moseley, 2010) members of the ethnic Yao group, who live in the Jinxiu Yao Autonomous County, in China. All members of the group who speak Jiongnai also speak another language (Lewis, 2016), most likely Mandarin or another large minority language.
There is not that much information available in English about the Jiongnai language, though Mao Zongwu and Li Yunbing published a book – 炯奈语研究 – in 2002 that appears to discuss different aspects of the language, including its phonology, words that are borrowed from Mandarin, and comparisons between Jiongnai and other languages from the Hmong-Mien language family. The conclusion the authors come to is that Jiongnai is most closely related to the She language than any other (Ratliff, 2003).
As the language is already classified as being definitely endangered (Moseley, 2010) and none of the remaining speakers are monolinguals, it seems likely that Jiongnai will continue to decrease in use over the next few years. It appears that there are no – or at least, very few – efforts being made to revitalise the language, though there are being efforts made to at least document it. Considering the sheer number of regional or minority language that exist in China, this state is unsurprising, though it is still somewhat disheartening.
Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2016. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Nineteenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online version: http://www.ethnologue.com.
Moseley, C., ed., 2007. Encyclopedia of the World’s Endangered Languages. Oxon: Routledge.
Moseley, C., ed., 2010. Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger. Paris: UNESCO Publishing. Online version: http://www.unesco.org/culture/en/endangeredlanguages/atlas.
Ratliff, M., 2003. Review of Mao Zongwu and Li Yunbing, 2001. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area, 26 (1), 119-121. Available from: http://sealang.net/sala/archives/pdf8/ratliff2003review.pdf. [Accessed: 18 April 2016].