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A Naxi- Chinese- English dictionary

After more than 16 years of work on Naxi language, Thomas M. Pinson’s dictionary was published at the end of 201. This is a monumental work that will allow the western researcher to dive in the Naxi spoken language.

Thought each visitor that travels to Lijiang can find many books explaining the basics of the written Naxi Dongba pictographic language, it was impossible to find a reliable guide to learn spoken language.

In the words of Mr Pinson:

 “Starting in September 1999, we began a nine-year cooperative Project with the Yunnan Minority Languages. This Project allowed us t olive in a Naxi village, learning the language and the culture.”

“In compiling this dictionary I used a variety of methods go gather the data. Initially, while we were still learning to speak Naxi, I used direct elicitation of words, phrases and sentences. Later I began gathering informal texts of many genres. These texts, from both written and recorded sources, provided me with the nuanced meanings of many words and phrases. They also give me a starting point for many of the illustrative sentences used in this dictionary.”

To reflect in the best way possible the nature of the Naxi spoken language, Mr Pinson took words from twelve different Naxi dialects. Each entry of his dictionary, has an abbreviation that indicates if the world is commonly used, or if its use is restricted to one or more dialects.

A word that unavoidably calls the attention of the reader in “kelpiuq”, introduced as an instance in the Guide to Using the dictionary (p. 18), whose definition is: “pointed bottom basket (carried on the back; used by landlords in past times to prevent laborers from resting while carrying their loads, because the basket will tip over if set down).

Pinson, Thomas M. A Naxi-Chinese-English Dictionary. Yunnan Nationalities Press. Kunming. 2012.

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