Juha Janhunen, Marja Peltomaa, Erika Sandman, Xiawu Dongzhou
University of Helsinki
This is the first ever systematic grammatical description of the Wutun language, spoken by a compact population of some 4,000 individuals at Wutun, Qinghai Province, China, also known as the Amdo region of ethnic Tibet.
Wutun is an aberrant variety of Northwest Mandarin. Its basic vocabulary and the material resources of its grammar are mainly of a Chinese origin, but structurally it has almost completely adapted to its current linguistic environment, in which various local varieties of Amdo Tibetan are the dominant oral idioms.
Wutun may be characterized as a topic-prominent serial-verb language with a well-developed category of nominal case and a complex system of complement verbs and auxiliaries. Its other properties include a highly diversified consonant paradigm and the universally uncommon category of perspective.
The Wutun speakers are officially classified as members of the Tu nationality, but culturally they are closely connected with the Tibetan ethnicity. The locality of Wutun is an important center of Tibetan art and learning, Wutun remains a living language supported by the whole local community of all generations.
Juha Janhunen is Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the Institute for Asian and African Studies, University of Helsinki. Marja Peltomaa and Erika Sandman are doctoral candidates at the same institute. Xiawu Dongzhou, a native speaker of Wutun, is a project manager based in Xining, Qinghai Province, China.
ISBN 9783895860263. Languages of the World/Materials 466. 136pp. 2008.