• Length: about 4 pages
  • Format: Double-spaced or 1.5-spaced
  • Include full citations indicating the sources of your information (see below for more information)
  • Please work alone on this assignment!


First read pp. 179-182 of chapter 10 in Zhou & Sun 2004. This chapter is written by the well-known Chinese linguist Sun Hongkai of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. You may remember him as the one who documented the Anong language. (Note: you are only asked to read the first 4 pages of the chapter.)

Then, download and read any one of the chapters 12 (Tibetan), 13 (Zhuang), 14 (Yi), 15 (Bai), 16 (Mangolian), or 17 (Korean) from Zhou 2004. You are free to choose the language that interests you the most. (Note that each of these chapters is written by a different author.) Read the description of the same language in Ramsey’s Languages of China and Legerton & Rawson’s Invisible China (some languages do not appear in both books, so just read what is available).

Making use of material in these three sources, combined with what you have learned from other class readings (for example, Dwyer) and lectures (we have discussed Yi, Tibetan, Korean, and Mongolian in some detail), write a brief summary of the ethnic minority people and language you have chosen. (Be aware that these three books are written by authors with very different backgrounds, perspectives, and agendas.) You may consult additional sources if you wish, but it is not necessary. Reputable published sources such as An ethnohistorical dictionary of China (on reserve at Odegaard and available as an ebook through UW library) are preferable to open collaborative sources (such as Wikipedia).

Include at least the following information:

  • population and geographic distribution
  • language varieties and dialects
  • general language features
  • type of writing system(s)
  • important points related to language policy, education policy, and writing system policy as well as additional information that you think is interesting or worth noting.

Do not attempt to include all the information in your readings; use your judgment to summarize and highlight. Don’t include technical details that you do not understand. If there are technical descriptions that you feel are important to understand and include in your paper, ask me for an explanation. Be sure that the paper represents your own writing, i.e. that it makes use of the information you’ve taken from the sources, but extracted, reorganized, and presented in your own words.

Your grade will be based on

  • coherence and organization of your paper, general clarity of the writing
  • accurate representation of information learned from the readings
  • judicious selection of material from reading included in your paper
  • connection of the reading material to other information learned in class
  • sufficiency of attributions in the text or in footnotes, with complete bibliographic citations

Aside from these requirements, you have freedom to decide on the content and structure of your paper.

When you are done writing your paper, search on YouTube (or elsewhere on the web) for a video that features a speaker of your language. Watch the video to get a feel for the sound of the language. Add the URL (web page address) of the video as an appendix at the end of your paper.

Citing Sources:

When writing an academic paper, you should always credit the source of all information or ideas that are not considered common knowledge. (What is or is not considered common knowledge is, of course, somewhat subjective. It varies depending on the field you are in and the audience you are writing for.) There are two reasons for doing this. First, to clearly distinguish which information or conclusions come from other sources from those that are your own contribution. Second, to give the reader the opportunity to directly consult your sources. Note that you are obliged to give citations even if you are not directly quoting another text. Many people mistakenly think of plagiarism as using another author’s exact words without credit. However, there are many other types of more subtle plagiarism that must be avoided: it is important not to take credit for specific ideas or articulations of those ideas as if they were your own.

There are a number of different ways to cite sources. In this class I do not require you to use any particular style, as long as you are consistent and provide all necessary information. (For downloadable descriptions of different styles, visit the UW library home page and click “Citation Styles & Tools”.) If the information in several sentences is from a single source, you can put one citation at the end of that set of sentences rather than providing a citation after each sentence. For information from class lectures, give the instructor name, the course name, and the date of the lecture.


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