Documentation of Qabiao, An Endangered Language in Vietnam

Authors: Nguyen Thu Quynh (Thai Nguyen University of Education)
Duong Thu Hang (Thai Nguyen University of Education)
Bui Linh Hue (Thai Nguyen University of Education)
Speaker: Nguyen Thu Quynh
Topic: Language, Community, Ethnicity
The CALA 2021 General Session


The Qabiao population of 903 people (2019) is considered to be one of the smallest ethnic minorities in Vietnam today. The Qabiao people are facing a great risk of disappearance due to many reasons: the weakening of Qabiao community resulted from inbreeding marriage, low birth rate and poverty; the absence of written languages; the limited use of language (mainly in families and village communities); the crowding of Vietnamese and H’mong, the regional common languages; and the lack of Qabiao language archives that the community can easily access. Many young people speak little or even no longer speak of the language of their people. The vitality of language is threatened by the changes of social factors and of the Qabiao ethnic community itself. We conducted fieldwork on the Qabiao language from 2016 to 2020. The materials gathered through the fieldwork are significant to determine the degree of closeness in the relation between Qabiao and other languages and lead us to find out a solution to preventing Qabiao from endangerment. The methods used in this research include fieldwork, social linguistics, data analysis by SPSS. This paper aims at two goals: firstly, to give a general introduction to the phonetics, lexicon, and grammar of Qabiao language based on computerized database; secondly, to describe the Qabiao language situation in Vietnam. This paper evaluates the risk degree of Qabiao based on the risk system of UNESCO and then suggests some solutions to preserve the language.

Keywords: Qabiao, documentation of Qabiao, endangered language, Vietnam