Dungan is a Sinitic language spoken by the descendants of Hui (Muslim) refugees who fled from northwest China after a failed revolt against the Qing (Manchu) government about a century and a half ago. Experiencing horrible losses along the way, their remnants settled in parts of what are now Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, where ultimately they thrived and are quite successful today, particularly in growing produce.
Naturally, separated as they were from their homeland and its speech community, the language of the Dungans has undergone considerable change, especially through the borrowing of terms from Russian, Persian, Arabic, Turkic, and other languages. Even more radical was the adoption of the Cyrillic alphabet for their writing system (nearly all of those who fled were illiterate in Chinese characters).
For a brief introduction to the Dungans and their language, see "Dungan: a Sinitic language written with the Cyrillic alphabet". Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »