Documentation of Yonghe Qiang language and culture

Documentation of Yonghe Qiang language and culture

Language: Qiang (ISO639-3:qxs)
Depositor: Nathaniel Sims
Location: People's Republic of China
Deposit Id: 0551
Grant id: IGS0333
Funding body: ELDP
Level: Deposit

Summary of deposit

Yonghe Qiang, is spoken in the Yonghe valley in western Sichuan China. This collection includes materials collected in 2018.

The data was collected by Nathaniel Sims in collaboration with community members Long Deyue and Bai Jianqiong.

Group represented
This collection focuses on speakers from Yonghe valley in southwestern Mao County, Sichuan China. Qiang varieties are internally diverse and are not mutually intelligible. While other varieties of Qiang have been well documented, the Yonghe variety is entirely undocumented.

Language information

Qiang varieties are spoken in the mountainous region along the upper Min river in the Rngaba Qiang-Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of western Sichuan, China. The area in which Qiang is spoken spans five counties: Wenchuan, Li, Mao, Songpan, and Heishui. It belongs to the Qiangic branch of Tibeto-Burman, though the exact phylogeny remains to be worked out.

The Yonghe variety is spoken in southwestern Mao County in the Yonghe valley. The valley has 3,000 residents, though the number of speakers is Like other Qiang varieties, Yonghe Qiang has a set of directional verbal prefixes which indicate the direction of motion and have also grammaticized into markers of mood and aspect. The language is largely agglutinative with some degree of fusion.

Qiang is rapidly being replaced by Sichuanese Mandarin. Reasons for language-shift include: compulsory Chinese-only education, increased access to Chinese-language media, new roads which increase ease of transportation, movement to urban areas for migrant work, and a low degree of intelligibility between varieties. In 2008, the Wenchuan earthquake devastated the area and many Qiang speakers lost their lives. Post-earthquake reconstruction and development has also contributed to the increasingly rapid loss of local culture.

Within Yonghe valley, there are 18 villages with populations ranging from about 120 to 350. The southernmost 6 villages are nearly completely linguistically Sinicized. The 3 villages in the central valley are an advanced state of shift. In the northernmost 6 villages, some children are still acquiring the language, though it is unclear to what extent.

Special characteristics

Deposit contents
This deposit will contain recordings of people giving consent to be recorded. These recordings will primarily be in Sichuanese Mandarin. The remainder of the deposit is in Yonghe Qiang.

Deposit history
The data for this collection was collected during the doctoral research of Nathaniel Sims, the principal investigator.

Other information
None of the data in this collection may be used as evidence in court.

Acknowledgement and citation
Sims, Nathaniel A. 2018. London: SOAS, Endangered Languages Archive. Yonghe Qiang language and culture: a collection of language and cultural material from the Qiang people of Yonghe valley in Rgnaba Prefecture, Mao County, Sichuan, China. URL: [insert URL here]. Accessed on [insert date here].


Collection online
Resources online and curated


Nathaniel Sims
Affiliation: University of California Santa Barbara

Deposit Statistics

Data from 2020 October 23 to 2020 October 23
Deposit hits:1
Downloaded files
Without statistics

Showing 1 - 10 of 20 Items

Recorded on: 2018-10-12

Recorded on: 2018-12-17

Recorded on: 2018-12-15

Recorded on: 2019-04-30

Recorded on: 2018-01-01

Recorded on: 2018-05-02

This is a short text in which YZQ describes certain ceremonies surrounding the killing of pigs at the lunar new year. The length of this recording is [00:01:27]. 在这个比较短的录音当中,YZQ 介绍羌族人民在寨子里杀猪的习惯和文化意义。 录音长短为 [00:01:27].

Recorded on: 2016-06-06

Recorded on: 2018-10-19

Recorded on: 2019-04-28

This is a recording made by ZJX, a local Qiang scholar, with the permission of all involved. Nathaniel Sims was also in attendance but mainly observed and was not the main recorder. The recording is of a new year ceremony devoted to the mountain god at the mountain peak above Jibu village in Yonghe valley. YZP is the shaman that is charge of orchestrating the ceremony. The video shows participants (all male) making preperations for the offering at the top of the mountain. They build flags out of bamboo and coloured paper and also have prepared liquor, candles, oil, and grain offerings for the mountain diety. YZP chants and uses a gong to address the diety and ask for protection and blessings for the new year. A couple of chickens are sacrificed and are eaten as part of a picnic after the ceremony. After the picnic, YZP says more prayers and then leads the people in circumambulating the stone altar in a counter-clockwise direction. He then sweeps away his footprints with a juniper branch and is the last to leave the area. Note that almost everyone in the ceremony is wearing Qiang clothing whereas people generally wear Han style clothes on other occasions. The duration of the recording is 00h:036m:31s.

Recorded on: 2017-02-16