Resources for Learning Aboriginal Languages?

I don’t think this belongs in “Learning Chinese”, so I’m putting it here. Mods, please move to a more appropriate forum if you can think of one.

I’m interested in studying Atayal. I’m not necessarily interested in mastering it.

When I search Google and Youtube, or check bookstores like “Taioan e Tiam” near Gongguan, it seems that the only material I can find regarding learning Aboriginal languages is either extremely simple stuff for little kids (usually without audio), or scholarly books or papers on some in-depth linguistic topics. Both of these have their value, and have been moderately helpful (I’ve learned how to say “hello”, “thank you”, and “what’s your name?”), but I’d like to find resources more aimed at the adult beginner.

None of the materials I’ve found so far explain the curious orthography of Atayal. In fact, one of the most helpful pieces of material I’ve found is an Atayal pop music video, complete with subtitles in Atayal and Chinese, in which I can compare the pronunciation with the orthography. Atayal music video

Can anyone here point me in the right direction?

wix would be the guy to ask. He’s doing a master on the Atayal up in Smangus.

The linguistics department at Sinica would be a good place to check out.

There’s some info here: Tàiyǎyǔ jiàoxué wǎngyè – mainly for kids; but at least there’s more than a couple of pages.

I would take a look at the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines near the National Palace museum. Well worth a visit anyway.

I googled around and found the stuff below. Hope it helps.

[quote]I walked around and successfully found 台灣e店 (Tâi-ûan ê Tiàm), the bookstore with everything Taiwanese. If you ever want to learn Taiwanese, learn any of the other languages of Taiwan, or learn about her native peoples, this is the place to go. Edith Aldridge recommended the store to me for finding some Atayal resources, and I picked up a Beginning Atayal book and a reference grammar both by Lillian Huang (黃美金). The dialect described is Mayrinax, a subdialect of C’ioli, rather than the Squliq that I’m studying, but it should still be a useful reference and starting point for studying the morphosyntax.[/quote]–mitcho’s blog mitcho.com/blog/life/travel/a-sa … %E5%8C%97/

The Beginning Atayal book mentioned above may be in Chinese; I’m not sure.

Edit 1:
[strike]Der-Hwa Victoria Rau wrote a Cornell Ph.D. dissertation entitled A Grammar of Atayal. I don’t imagine it’s the ideal thing for acquiring the language, but it might be helpful somehow. I can’t say for sure that this is the book itself, because I’m not familiar with this sort of format, but it looks as if it might be: language-archives.org/item/o … .info:2682[/strike]
[color=#FF0000]Whoa, that’s a comparative grammar (or I guess that’s what you’d call it). Where’s the sackcloth and ashes emoticon?[/color]

Edit 2:
Two problems with the stuff below: (1) I don’t know whether it’s what you want; and (2) I don’t know how you can get it. But anyway, here’s some stuff from the 1990s, from/for Wulai Junior High and Elementary Schools (I guess):

宋神財、張瑞禎
1992 《泰雅母語教學教材》第一冊,台北:烏來國民中、小學。
1992 《泰雅母語教學教材》第二冊,台北:烏來國民中、小學。

Edit 3: I wonder if this YouTube video could help any.

Edit 4: A search using NTU Library’s TULIPS search engine yielded the following:

泰雅母語教學教材 (there’s some extraneous stuff in this one)

Duo-Ao You-Gei-Hai and A-Dong You-Pa-Si. 1991. Atayal reader [Lpgan ke’’ na Tayal]. Atayal Mother Tongue Promotion Committee Publisher.

Thank, guys. I’ll check out the options.

BTW, I do have a copy of Huang Mei-Jin’s book. (Huang Mei-Jin: Yellow American Dollar?) Excellent explanation of grammar, but hard to learn useful phrases from.

Seems like something one could do a Linguistics or Taiwan Studies Masters or PhD study on.
You may have found a niche here, Chris. :thumbsup:

So, I went up to Wulai (I mean Ulay) this morning. I bought a sausage from a sausage vendor there, a guy who was clearly Aboriginal. After the transaction I said Mhuway su balay (“Thank you very much”) in Atayal, and it totally blew his mind.

His reaction was one of shock and awe: “How the hell did you know that??” And he enthusiastically shook my hand and asked me if I came to Taiwan specifically to learn his language. I had to say I only knew a couple phrases, but he was absolutely delighted I took the time to learn them.

Nice little experience.

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Might be interested in this:

[button]Voices in the Clouds,http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/chrisbremer/voices-in-the-clouds-a-documentary-on-indigenous-t/[/button]

and this:

[button]atayal,http://www.atayal.org/[/button]

[quote=“Chris”]So, I went up to Wulai (I mean Ulay) this morning. I bought a sausage from a sausage vendor there, a guy who was clearly Aboriginal. After the transaction I said Mhuway su balay (“Thank you very much”) in Atayal, and it totally blew his mind.

His reaction was one of shock and awe: “How the hell did you know that??” And he enthusiastically shook my hand and asked me if I came to Taiwan specifically to learn his language. I had to say I only knew a couple phrases, but he was absolutely delighted I took the time to learn them.

Nice little experience.[/quote]

It’s Mhuway su baley! No wonder he was so surprised and happy. Chris I’ll tell you on our next hike just what you have signed up for. :laughing:

[quote=“Mucha Man”][quote=“Chris”]So, I went up to Wulai (I mean Ulay) this morning. I bought a sausage from a sausage vendor there, a guy who was clearly Aboriginal. After the transaction I said Mhuway su balay (“Thank you very much”) in Atayal, and it totally blew his mind.

His reaction was one of shock and awe: “How the hell did you know that??” And he enthusiastically shook my hand and asked me if I came to Taiwan specifically to learn his language. I had to say I only knew a couple phrases, but he was absolutely delighted I took the time to learn them.

Nice little experience.[/quote]

It’s Mhuway su baley! No wonder he was so surprised and happy. Chris I’ll tell you on our next hike just what you have signed up for. :laughing:[/quote]

Dogasua,
Up in the highlands of Jianshih the pronunciation is slightly different - “Mahoisu baley”
hccst.gov.tw/english/left-5/left-5-4.asp

Hey Chris,

:bravo: for showing some interest in one of the local Formosan languages. I studied Linguistics as an undergrad, now I am doing a Master’s at NTU in Computer Science, but language has always been my passion. I’ll share some of my knowledge and experience studying Atayal. First of all, I am not sure why it is written as Atayal, because all of the Tayal that I know pronounce it as Tayal, so if someone knows why, please share! :notworthy: Also, the “l” at the end of a word is pronounced as “n”, and “t” sounds like a “d” in English so you get “dai-yan”, which means people, like many other languages, the name of the language the given by the natives is often “people” or “the language of the people”.

In terms of resources, this is a common problem in any language that has not been well studied, is dying, unpopular, etc. Studying a language without many written resources can be a true challenge. Most of the resources are either quite simplistic or linguistic. This essentially leaves you with two choices: you can learn linguistics to take advantage of the resources that are available (and there are a number of good linguistic resources for Tayal in English and Chinese), or try to learn it solely by conversation with Tayal, which is not an easy task because many speakers nowadays are only partially fluent, unless they are 60 years or older, and will probably not be able to tell you anything about the grammar. You might check out one of the Tayal churches in Ulay, some of them may do service in Tayal, and I believe there are bibles written in Tayal, but I have not been fortunate enough to get my hands on one.

I actually have a Tayal dictionary “Atayal English Dictionary” by Soren Egerod. I think it was written in the sixties. Anyway, I think it’s extremely hard to get, I found it used on Amazon.com and it was the only copy available, cost me about $75 US, so I am considering scanning it all into pdf since it is essentially unavailable. Just to make things more exciting they are two main dialects of Tayal (differ slightly in grammar and pronunciation), and many local variations in vocabulary. There are quite a few Japanese words that made their way into Tayal (much like Taiwanese). My girlfriend is Tayal and she is also what I can consider partially fluent, she can understand most of everything people say, but in terms of speech she usually just peppers her Chinese with simple nouns, verbs, or simple sentences. Anyway, here are a few words for you:

( denotes stress) Jilala (jee-la-la) - Let’s go
Avila (a-vee-la) - Let's go to sleep Agai! (a-gai) [it’s a fricative g, so a bit softer] - Ouch! (this word you will hear a lot if you hang out with Tayal)
Nanu (na-nu) or (na-nu) [I have heard both accents] - What?
Mami (ma-mee) - Rice Mit (meet) - sheep Hogin (hoe-geen) [g is fricative, otherwise it means “dead”] - dog
Mugan (moo-gan) - Taiwanese person Thiluw (tey-loo) - Mainland Chinese
Talax Tunux (da-lah du-nuh) [the x sound is fricative like ch in Bach] - foreigner (literally red head)

If you learn anymore, please share!

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Yeah, I don’t know where the initial “A” comes from either. I do know that the L is pronounced as an N at the end of a syllable, but it’s pronounced as an L if followed by a suffix, making the N an allophone.

Thanks for your informative post.

Nice, so it seems you know (or have recently learned) some linguistics terms like “allophone”. A "Grammar of Ataya"l is pretty good for grammar, its also based on Ulay Tayal. Huang Mei-Jin’s book is based on Miaoli Tayal, so things differ slightly. Also, the general trend is, the further into the mountains you go, the more fluent the children are since they are less likely to have contact with Mugan.

[quote=“photi”]. . . I believe there are bibles written in Tayal, but I have not been fortunate enough to get my hands on one.[/quote] This looks like an Atayal/Tayal Bible in the NTU Library TULIPS electronic catalogue (but I don’t think it’s for checking out): tulips.ntu.edu.tw/search/X?SEARC … rchscope=5

I couldn’t find a Tayal/Atayal Bible in the Taipei Public Library (that doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t one), but when I typed 泰雅族 in the search box some titles appeared that look like there might be language-learning materials in the mix (I can’t tell, because I don’t know Chinese).

Thanks Chalie Jack, when I get a chance I will take a look at it at the NTU library.

You’re welcome.

[color=#0000FF]What’s the grammar like?[/color]

SVO or SOV? I’m guessing SOV.

Modifier + N or N + modifier?
I’m guessing N+modifier.

What are the syllables like? Consonant Vowel? C Glide V? Consonant clusters? Diphthongs? I’m guessing simple syllables.

How many syllables in a word? I’m thinking more than 2.

What’s the morphology like? I’m thinking verbs inflect. And lots of derivational affixation.

Any strange consonants?
No idea.

Tones?
I’m thinking yes.

(Curious to see how my predictions turn out.)

Who will you speak with?

It’s about time I learn a bit of a non-sinitic language…

Some resources:

(Abstract – PDF) Language Revitalization through the Aboriginal Languages Textbooks Compiling Project
http://www.sil.org/asia/philippines/ical/abstracts/Lim_Formosan%20language%20revitalization.pdf

(Full Article – PDF) The Internal Relationships of Formosan Languages
http://www.sil.org/asia/philippines/ical/papers/Li-internal%20relationships%20formosan.pdf

There are more:http://www.sil.org/asia/philippines/ical/papers.html

Back to work…

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