A language to love

Updated: 2012-08-14 13:50

By Li Yingqing and Liu Wenwen in Lijiang, Yunnan (China Daily)

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A language to love

He Shanghua, the primary school's teacher in charge of the Dongba class, says all the school's Naxi students, and 60 to 70 percent of the Han students, can speak the Naxi language.

"Students like Dongba classes very much," says the teacher. "Outside class, we organize visits to the Dongba museum, Kingdom of Dongba and places of interest like that. Some students get composition awards for their Dongba themed articles."

"People are beginning to realize the value of Dongba culture and characters. Our class even attracts students from the United States and Japan."

After 13 years, this bilingual education in Mandarin and the Naxi language has borne fruit.

A total of 217 students have graduated from the class and two of them continued their further education studying ethnic history and linguistic studies at university.

He Nanjiang, 22, is one of the first to have graduated from Dongba culture classes. He graduated from Yunnan Nationalities University, majoring in ethnic cultural studies. He is preparing to apply for a master's degree on Dongba culture at China Southwest Normal University.

He Jiquan, born to a Dongba family, used to be a Dongba teacher at Huangshan Primary School. He got his doctorate in Dongba language and culture this year, and begun to write and compile books on Dongba culture.

"That is what we are looking for," Guo says. "After years of studying and teaching, they have grown up and transmit the legacy of the Dongba culture. That means we have hope for future generations."

Contact the writers through liyingqing@chinadaily.com.cn.

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