Dungan (Хуэйзў йүян)

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Dungan (Хуэйзў йүян)

Postby Multiturquoise » 2014-01-29, 15:51

This is a thread about Dungan, which is a dialect of Chinese. But the writing system differs from other Chinese languages. It's written using the Cyrillic alphabet. There is some information about it on Wikipedia. I first heard of this language, which is actually a dialect of Chinese, while I was looking at list of language flag codes.
بسی رنج بردم در این سال سی
عجم زنده کردم بدین پارسی

فردوسی

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Re: Dungan (Хуэйзў йүян)

Postby schnaz » 2014-02-08, 13:18

Thanks for sharing the information Eibhlin, nice to have a Turkish viewpoint.
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Re: Dungan (Хуэйзў йүян)

Postby OldBoring » 2014-03-03, 10:11

More information about Dungan here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dungan_language

I've already expressed briefly my Chinese viewpoint here.

I first heard about Dungan language in a Chinese TV reportage.
According to that, the language is mutually intelligible in the basilect (=basic every day words) with Shaanxi Mandarin (Wikipedia says Gansu Mandarin too), so the interviewed Dungan speaker is an immigrant in Xi'an (Shaanxi's provincial capital) and could live there with no problems communicating in daily life with people. He even defined Dungan as "Shaanxi dialect written with Russian alphabet".

Dungan is fascinating to me because it has maintained a lot of ancient terms from Imperial China (Qing dynasty), recycled to denote modern terms.
E.g.
ямын ya-min (Chinese: 衙門 - feudal China's bureau) - government office
word cognate with 皇帝 (emperor) - government
word cognate with 衙役 (runners of the feudal bureau) - police

But because of the Russian influence, Dungan uses Russian loanwords for the acrolect (="high" words).

So when they were interviewing a Dungan speaker, he was speaking Mandarin, until he said "我们感谢皇帝” (="we thank the Emperor" - he wanted to say "we thank the government), but then he realized that in Mandarin 皇帝 can only mean "Emperor", so he stopped and looked at another guy saying the Russian word for "government", to which he suggested the correct word in Mandarin "政府".

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Re: Dungan (Хуэйзў йүян)

Postby schnaz » 2014-03-10, 12:22

"What a revoltin´ development this is." Daffy Duck

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Re: Dungan (Хуэйзў йүян)

Postby OldBoring » 2014-03-10, 12:38

Wait. Is Dungan classified as an Altaic language?

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Re: Dungan (Хуэйзў йүян)

Postby mōdgethanc » 2014-03-10, 22:01

hāozigǎnr wrote:Wait. Is Dungan classified as an Altaic language?
Why would it be? It's Sino-Tibetan, closely related to Mandarin. I don't know of any proposals for Altaic that include the Sinitic family.

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Re: Dungan (Хуэйзў йүян)

Postby Pangu » 2014-03-11, 1:06

mōdgethanc wrote:
hāozigǎnr wrote:Wait. Is Dungan classified as an Altaic language?
Why would it be? It's Sino-Tibetan, closely related to Mandarin. I don't know of any proposals for Altaic that include the Sinitic family.

I'm sure he was confused by the links provided by schnaz

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Re: Dungan (Хуэйзў йүян)

Postby vijayjohn » 2014-03-11, 3:12

Yeah, I don't know why schnaz posted links that have to do with Altaic languages, either. The Dungan language is definitely not Altaic by any definition; it's a variety of Mandarin. (And yes, I believe it actually is Mandarin, as Wikipedia says, not just closely related to it).

Anyway, I think this is pretty interesting. :) Until now, I didn't know about any of the actual differences between this language and, say, Standard Mandarin or Beijing Mandarin. Apparently, even the basic vocabulary contains a lot(?) of loanwords from Arabic and Persian. I guess the names of Hui people outside China are also not exactly typical of Chinese names (Yasyr looks more like "Yasser" than any Chinese name I know of).

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Re: Dungan (Хуэйзў йүян)

Postby mōdgethanc » 2014-03-11, 4:26

vijayjohn wrote:And yes, I believe it actually is Mandarin, as Wikipedia says, not just closely related to it).
So do I. I just didn't want to get bogged down in details about whether it's a "dialect" or a "variety" or a "topolect". Besides, Mandarin will be anything you want her to be, if the price is right. :wink:

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Re: Dungan (Хуэйзў йүян)

Postby Pangu » 2014-03-11, 13:04

vijayjohn wrote:Yeah, I don't know why schnaz posted links that have to do with Altaic languages, either. The Dungan language is definitely not Altaic by any definition; it's a variety of Mandarin. (And yes, I believe it actually is Mandarin, as Wikipedia says, not just closely related to it).


I wouldn't say it "IS" Mandarin because they are not mutually intelligible. I am a native Mandarin speaker and I heard a few recordings of Dungan and while the general sounds are very familiar to me, I was not able to make out anything.

Dungan may share the same root as Mandarin but it has evolved into something different.

vijayjohn wrote:Anyway, I think this is pretty interesting. :) Until now, I didn't know about any of the actual differences between this language and, say, Standard Mandarin or Beijing Mandarin. Apparently, even the basic vocabulary contains a lot(?) of loanwords from Arabic and Persian. I guess the names of Hui people outside China are also not exactly typical of Chinese names (Yasyr looks more like "Yasser" than any Chinese name I know of).


Hui people are considered a different ethnic group than Han. They may be closely related to the Han in terms of blood but they are Muslims, which comes with its whole set of culture. The point is that it shouldn't be surprising they may have Muslim names instead of Chinese ones.

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Re: Dungan (Хуэйзў йүян)

Postby schnaz » 2014-03-12, 12:02

Sorry everyone,
I was operating on the wrong idea that Dungan was an Altaic language. When I saw that Eibhli´n was from Turkey I let my imagination run away with me and assumed that Dungan was Altaic. Now that I reread his post I see that he did not say that. Thanks for bringing me back to reality.
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Re: Dungan (Хуэйзў йүян)

Postby OldBoring » 2014-03-12, 14:31

Pangu wrote:I wouldn't say it "IS" Mandarin because they are not mutually intelligible.

In English "Mandarin" can refer to both "Standard Mandarin" (国语/普通话) or "the Mandarin dialects group" (官话) which includes i.e. 北京话、天津话、东北话、山东话、河北话、河南话、湖北话、四川话、甘肃话、陕西话……

Dungan is a form of 陕西话, thus a form of 官话.

vijayjohn wrote:Apparently, even the basic vocabulary contains a lot(?) of loanwords from Arabic and Persian. I guess the names of Hui people outside China are also not exactly typical of Chinese names (Yasyr looks more like "Yasser" than any Chinese name I know of).

Even the Hui people inside China have a lot of words that come from Arabic and Persian.
Not to mention that Arabic names are used by many Muslims that do not speak Arabic, such as Malaysians and Indonesians.

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Re: Dungan (Хуэйзў йүян)

Postby Pangu » 2014-03-12, 15:50

hāozigǎnr wrote:
Pangu wrote:I wouldn't say it "IS" Mandarin because they are not mutually intelligible.

In English "Mandarin" can refer to both "Standard Mandarin" (国语/普通话) or "the Mandarin dialects group" (官话) which includes i.e. 北京话、天津话、东北话、山东话、河北话、河南话、湖北话、四川话、甘肃话、陕西话……

Dungan is a form of 陕西话, thus a form of 官话.

I can't say I know enough about Dungan to argue further. However, from what I do know, Dungan would be a distant cousin of 陝西話 at best.

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Re: Dungan (Хуэйзў йүян)

Postby OldBoring » 2014-03-16, 8:33

Pangu wrote:
hāozigǎnr wrote:
Pangu wrote:I wouldn't say it "IS" Mandarin because they are not mutually intelligible.

In English "Mandarin" can refer to both "Standard Mandarin" (国语/普通话) or "the Mandarin dialects group" (官话) which includes i.e. 北京话、天津话、东北话、山东话、河北话、河南话、湖北话、四川话、甘肃话、陕西话……

Dungan is a form of 陕西话, thus a form of 官话.

I can't say I know enough about Dungan to argue further. However, from what I do know, Dungan would be a distant cousin of 陝西話 at best.

Just like your Taiwanese Minnan speaking fellows have to make an effort to understand 厦门话 or 泉州话, but they are still Minnan.
Or even further, you guys cannot communicate with 福州话, but it still belongs to the Min language (but Mindong "branch").

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Re: Dungan (Хуэйзў йүян)

Postby Pangu » 2014-03-16, 15:28

hāozigǎnr wrote:
Pangu wrote:
hāozigǎnr wrote:
Pangu wrote:I wouldn't say it "IS" Mandarin because they are not mutually intelligible.

In English "Mandarin" can refer to both "Standard Mandarin" (国语/普通话) or "the Mandarin dialects group" (官话) which includes i.e. 北京话、天津话、东北话、山东话、河北话、河南话、湖北话、四川话、甘肃话、陕西话……

Dungan is a form of 陕西话, thus a form of 官话.

I can't say I know enough about Dungan to argue further. However, from what I do know, Dungan would be a distant cousin of 陝西話 at best.

Just like your Taiwanese Minnan speaking fellows have to make an effort to understand 厦门话 or 泉州话, but they are still Minnan.
Or even further, you guys cannot communicate with 福州话, but it still belongs to the Min language (but Mindong "branch").

No, you are right.

Due to cultural reasons, it was difficult to accept Dungan as a "Chinese dialect" due to its heavily foreign influence and development outside of China.

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Re: Dungan (Хуэйзў йүян)

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-03-16, 8:25

This is a recording of various words in Dungan (with their equivalents in English) by the Endangered Language Alliance (apparently, Dungan only has 41,000 speakers as of 2001) in New York. I'm guessing the words were taken from the Swadesh list. I think it's interesting to see how it differs from other varieties of Mandarin. This video is also available from Youku:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4hgBu8osu4
Youku link: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMzg5MzA2NTU2.html

EDIT: Also, here's a comedy skit in Dungan (it disappeared from both YouTube and Youku when I made this post, but it's back up on both sites now):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKKRA5EmFuA
Youku link: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNjk4OTU3MTUy.html

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Re: Dungan (Хуэйзў йүян)

Postby OldBoring » 2015-03-26, 0:57

Thank you for the links, Vijay! Especially for posting the Youku links too!

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Re: Dungan (Хуэйзў йүян)

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-04-05, 17:37

No problem!

Btw, I just noticed this:
Youngfun wrote:the language is mutually intelligible in the basilect (=basic every day words) [...]

But because of the Russian influence, Dungan uses Russian loanwords for the acrolect (="high" words).

"Basilect" and "acrolect" aren't really the appropriate terms here (they refer to varieties of a language, not just words). What you really mean is that speakers of those varieties of Mandarin can understand the basic vocabulary of Dungan but that Dungan also has lots of Russian loanwords.

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Re: Dungan (Хуэйзў йүян)

Postby OldBoring » 2015-04-06, 13:33

Ok, I was influenced by Wikipedia that used the terms basilect and acrolect :lol: Although I may have rephrased the whole thing badly.

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Re: Dungan (Хуэйзў йүян)

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-04-06, 16:40

Yeah, they're referring to whole languages there, not just words. Basically, "acrolect" refers to the dominant language (which I'm pretty sure is Russian in the case of Dungan) whereas "basilect" refers to the form of the language that's most divergent from that language (in other words, Dungan with minimal influence from Russian). I also think of "basilect" as referring to the language spoken on the street and the "acrolect" as the language spoken by the higher class or aristocracy, although maybe that's just an overgeneralization in my brain. So basically, they're saying that Gansu Mandarin gets its technical/political/whatever vocabulary from (modern) Chinese whereas Dungan gets it from Russian. It also sounds to me like they're suggesting that a speaker of Gansu Mandarin and a Dungan-speaker could have a simple, casual conversation, but they'd have difficulty understanding each other if they started talking about something more complex like international politics.


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