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China's Na'mzi Tibetans: Life, Language and Folklore: Libu Lakhi, Tsering Bum, Charles Kevin Stuart

China's Na'mzi Tibetans: Life, Language and Folklore
Author: Libu Lakhi, Tsering Bum, Charles Kevin Stuart 
Publisher: Asian Highlands Perspectives
Publication date: 2009
Number of pages: 647
Format / Quality: DJVU
Size: 14.53MB
This remarkable book is the product of a fruitful collaboration among a native speaker of Namzi, Tibetan and Chinese consultants, and a dedicated group of Westerners resident in China. It affords the reader an intimate glimpse into traditional Namzi life, now well on its way to disappearing along with hundreds of similar minority cultures in the world.

In Part One we learn something about the extraordinary biography of the central character in this enterprise, a polyglot Namzi man called Libu Lakhi (also known as Li Jianfu in Chinese, Dawa Tenzin in Tibetan and Zachary in English), whose inspiring pursuit of education has involved the acquisition of four Sino-Tibetan languages (Namzi, Yi Nuosu, Tibetan, Chinese), as well as English. Part Two of the volume (Introduction) contains short essays on aspects of Namzi life and culture. Especially interesting are accounts of the elaborate New Year's celebrations, and the section on Engagement and Marriage, where we hear the sad story of Libu Lakhi's sister Sanjin's attempts to avoid an arranged marriage.

The heart of the book is Part Three (Texts), which consists of eleven texts, presented in an ingenious format. Each Namzi khato sentence is given word-by-word glosses in English, Tibetan and Chinese, with each word occupying a separate cell in a table; this is followed by connected translations in each of the three languages. These interlinear presentations are followed by separate fluent translations in each glossing language, with additional material inserted to clarify points omitted by the speaker since they were taken for granted by their original Namzi audience. These stories, with their often wild and fantastic narrative motifs, will be of great interest to folklorists. A couple of them are origin myths reminiscent of Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, where the purpose was to 'explain' why some phenomenon in the world is the way it is (e.g., how the leopard got his spots, how the camel got his hump, how the rhinoceros got his skin). Thus the story 'Two Sisters' offers an explanation for why our fingers are of uneven length. The story 'Rabbit Father-in-law' ends with a motif very much like the Abraham and Isaac story, where a man is asked to slaughter his own son to show his loyalty, but is stopped at the last minute once it is clear he is actually going to do the deed.

Finally, we have a Glossary of Namzi khato words, followed by such useful appendices as the Swadesh list in Namzi khato, charts of Namzi khato consonants and vowels, pronouns and numerals. Finally a table of resemblant words in Namzi khato and Nuosu Yi is given, although no attempt is made to distinguish borrowings from genuine cognates.

Complementing this volume are a number of audiovisual materials available for free download, including 'photo albums' ( ) with nearly 250 images of Namzi people, landscapes, crops, artifacts and crafts, as well as audio files of all eleven texts


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