Western Yunnan in Roy Chapman Andrews's Book
TRAILS IN CHINA - A NARRATIVE OF EXPLORATION, ADVENTURE, AND SPORT IN
LITTLE-KNOWN CHINA BY ROY CHAPMAN ANDREWS, M.A.
non-Chinese tribes that the traveler encounters in western China, form
perhaps one of the most interesting features of travel in that country.
It is safe to assert that in hardly any other part of the world is there
such a large variety of languages and dialects, as are to be heard in
the country which lies between Assam and the eastern border of Yün-nan
and in the Indo-Chinese countries to the south of this region.
of this is not hard to find. It lies in the physical characteristics of
the country. It is the high mountain ranges and the deep swift-flowing
rivers that have brought about the differences in customs and language,
and the innumerable tribal distinctions, which are so perplexing to the
enquirer into Indo-Chinese ethnology.
has entered Yün-nan from their original Himalayan or Tibetan home,
and after increasing in numbers have found the land they have settled
on not equal to their wants. The natural result has been the emigration
of part of the colony. The emigrants, having surmounted pathless mountains
and crossed unbridged rivers on extemporized rafts, have found a new place
to settle in, and have felt no inclination to undertake such a journey
again to revisit their old home.
a written character in which to preserve their traditions, cut off from
all civilizing influence of the outside world, and occupied merely in
growing crops enough to support themselves, the recollection of their
connection with their original ancestors has died out. It is not then
surprising that they should now consider themselves a totally distinct
race from the parent stock. Inter-tribal wars, and the practice of slave
raiding so common among the wilder members of the Indo-Chinese family,
have helped to still further widen the breach. In fact it may be considered
remarkable that after being separated for hundreds, and perhaps in some
case for thousands, of years, the languages of two distant tribes of the
same family should bear to each other the marked general resemblance which
is still to be found.
nature of the country and the consequent lack of good means of communication
have also naturally militated against the formation of any large kingdoms
with effective control over the mountainous districts. Directly we get
to a flat country with good roads and navigable rivers, we find the tribal
distinctions disappear, and the whole of the inhabitants are welded into
a homogeneous people under a settled government, speaking one language.
as heard throughout the Irrawaddy valley is the same everywhere. A traveler
from Rangoon to Bhamo will find one language spoken throughout his journey,
but an expedition of the same length in the hilly country to the east
or to the west of the Irrawaddy valley would bring him into contact with
twenty mutually unintelligible tongues.
The same state of things applies to Siam and Tong-king--one nation speaking one language in the flat country and a Tower of Babel in the hills (loc. cit., pp. 332-333).
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