Documentation of Zauzou, an endangered language in China
The Zauzou people live in southeastern Yunnan, mainland of China. They are dispersed over the territory spanning latitude 25°97’ ~26°49’N and spanning longitude to 98°82’~99°29’ E. The 1995 census shows that, in this mountainous land, approximately 1800 Zauzou speakers are distributed over 6 villages (Tu’e, Bijilan, Wupijiang, Guoli, Xiaocun, Jiangmo) along the banks of Lancang River, Tu’e Township, Lanping County, Nujiang Prefecture, Yunnan province. A small group of 300 Zauzou speakers resides in three villages in Lushui County in the Nu River region. The variety of Zauzou they speak is mutually intelligible with other Zauzou dialects. Thus, though geographically distant from other Zauzou groups, the Zauzou dialect spoken in Lushui County is regarded as the same language as the Zauzou dialects spoken in Lanping County. The Zauzou people have been classified as a subgroup of the Nu nationality since 1953 by the central government of China.
This project is carried out in the Jiangmo village and focuses on the variety of Zauzou spoken by the Jiongmo people. It is because that this dialect is the major dialect of Zauzou. Speakers of Jiangmo dialect account for about 70% of Zauzou speakers.
In history, the Jiangmo village was once the territory of the Dai ethnic group. During Tang Dynasty (618-907AD), the advent of a group of Zauzou people (perhaps a variety of Han) expelled the Dai group living in Tu’e. The Zauzou people then took the land and settled in the Jiangmo village. Since this variety of Zauzou people are most likely the descendants of Han ethnic group, the local residents of Jiangmo all have the Han-like family names.
Zauzou is a highly tonal, verb-final language, with little morphology. It is noteworthy that vowels in Zauzou have four phonation types: plain, nasal, tense, and nasal tense. Zauzou employs a robust system of classifiers, a system of post-verbal elements of various types, and extensive serial verb constructions, which are all common among other Loloish languages.
Multilingualism is a notable feature of this linguistic area. The area where Zauzou is spoken is populated by at least three ethnic groups: (1) the Nu group, who use Zauzou as the dominant language; (2) the Bai group, who speak a variety of Central Bai and Lama; (3) the Lisu group, who speak the Loloish language Lisu. In addition to that, a small number of people from the Han community, who speak a southwestern variety of Mandarin Chinese (i.e. Kunming Chinese), sporadically live in the Zauzou community. Zauzou speakers are being assimilated by surrounding ethnic groups and most of them become multi-linguals, who also speak Lisu, Central Bai, Lama and Kunming Mandarin. Code switching among those languages is also very common in the speech of Zauzou people. It is known that a great number of concepts in Zauzou are borrowed from other languages via loan words. Though Zauzou is the dominant language in the Tu’e County, Mandarin is the language of administration, education and media, and Zauzou speakers can freely switch to Lisu or Bai if they encounter people from these two groups (and vise versa).
Acknowledgement and citation
To refer to any data from the corpus, please cite the corpus in this way
Yu, Li. 2017. Documentation of Zauzou, an endangered language in China . London: SOAS, Endangered Languages Archive. URL: http://elar.soas.ac.uk/deposit/0428. Accessed on 25.10.2017.
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