Linguist races to document Cambodia's dying S'aoch language

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Linguist races to document Cambodia's dying S'aoch language

Post by Kung-fu Hillbilly » Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:58 pm

The S’oach village of Long Le in the late 19th century.

End nears for minority group whose local history stretches back centuries

VEAL RENH, Cambodia -- Jean-Michel Filippi is racing against the clock: Only 10 speakers remain of an ancient language the French linguistic expert is recording before it surely dies, taking with it much of the culture of its people.

.... less than 100 survivors of the S'aoch ethnic minority now lead a marginal existence in the village of Veal Renh, in southwestern Cambodia.
Filippi said he realized when he came into contact with the S'aoch in 1997 that their language could not be saved. So he began compiling a dictionary of more than 6,000 S'aoch words, and has written a soon-to-be published history of the people, said to go back some 5,000 years.
... Since the time of Cambodia's Khmer Empire, which ruled from the ninth century to the 15th century, they and other linguistically related extant ethnic minority groups have been called Pearic, a term used in Cambodia to denote someone of low class. The word S'aoch translates as "an itchy skin disease" in Khmer.
.... in the 1830s they were defeated by Thai forces, which carried off a large part of the population to what is now Thailand's Kanchanaburi province.
The S'aoch say they sometimes go to Buddhist temples, and from time to time they gather for traditional animist ceremonies. But in one conversation, several older men could not recall the names of their gods, and were vague about the nature of the ceremonies.
"I feel very depressed every time I come to this village," he admitted, surrounded by welcoming locals. For them, Filippi sees a near-term future not unlike that of the Kamassian speakers of central Siberia. Kamassian was thought to have disappeared until a Russian archaeologist came across Klavdiya Plotnikova, the last speaker of the language, in the 1960s. In order not to forget her heritage, Plotnikova spoke to her cow in her mother tongue every morning.
Google's Endangered Languages Project lists more than 3,400 endangered tongues, out of 7,000 still spoken worldwide, with half of those in peril found in Asia.
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Re: Linguist races to document Cambodia's dying S'aoch language

Post by StroppyChops » Tue Jun 12, 2018 4:39 pm

I had this quick mental image of a linguists race, and hoped they wouldn't be wearing lycra.
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