Dwin­dling num­bers

ChinAfrica - - Lifestyle -

In China, more than 40 per­cent of the eth­nic mi­nor­ity lan­guages are in dan­ger of ex­tinc­tion, ac­cord­ing to Huang Xing, a re­searcher with the In­sti­tute of Eth­nol­ogy and An­thro­pol­ogy of the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences (CASS). The Hezhen eth­nic group in north­east China is a good ex­am­ple. There are more than 4,600 Hezhen peo­ple scat­tered around Hei­longjiang Prov­ince. To­day, only 2.14 per­cent of them can speak or use the Hezhen lan­guage. “The lan­guage has come to the brink of ex­tinc­tion,” said Dai Qingxia, Pro­fes­sor with the MUC.

Ac­cord­ing to Dai’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion, only 15 peo­ple use Hezhen as their only lan­guage. In the vil­lage of Bacha in Hei­longjiang’s Tongjiang City, one of the lo­ca­tions in which the Hezhen lan­guage is best pre­served, only six el­derly peo­ple can speak the lan­guage flu­ently.

“The Hezhen lan­guage only has a spo­ken form. When those el­derly peo­ple die one day, the lan­guage will van­ish along with them,” Dai said.

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