Sunday, August 31, 2008

Nude tengereg nga shage yi

The Fall semester has begun and I don’t know where summer went. I am currently enrolled in three courses: Cultural Anthropology, Ancient Maya Civilization, and Discourse Analysis.

As you may have noticed from the last several posts with photos, I did take a two-week break to go on my research trip to the Northeast (Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maine). I was also working on an article on Rumsen Ohlone folklore that is about to be published in the Journal of Folklore Research. It has gone through the peer-review process and is now in the final editing stage.

I spent much of the summer working on my Graduate Research Assistanceship (GRA) project with the Southwest Monguor language of central China. This is, at its base, a Mongolic language (‘Monguor’ derives from Mongol), with an admixture of Tibetan (primarily through the practice of Buddhism) and a northern dialect of Chinese.

The title of this post is in SW Monguor and means “Today the weather is very good.” Any of you who’ve seen the movie Mongol might recognize the Monguor word for ‘sky’ or ‘weather', tengereg, as being related to the name of the Mongolian sky god Tengri often mentioned in that film.

Here are a few more examples of the language:

be lhoma yi.
1S student COP.dir
‘I am a student.’

be hengen de yi.
1S teacher also COP.dir
‘I am also a teacher.’

qe rjacoh gaje mede u?
2S Chinese.Mongolian(Monguor) language know PRT.inter
‘Do you know the Monguor language?’

njang-ne aabe hale yi?
3S-GEN father where COP.dir
‘Where is his father?’

You might note from the above that Monguor is very much a 'mixed' language, since, for example, lhoma 'student' is actually Tibetan, while tengereg (< tenger), nude (< önöödör), mede (< medekh) are Mongolian in origin.

Quite an interesting tongue!

A note on pronunciation: e is pronounced like an English schwa or uh sound and lh is a lateral fricative.