A grammar of Bao'an Tu, a Mongolic language of northwest China
by Fried, Robert Wayne, Ph.D., STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK AT BUFFALO, 2010, 366 pages;


The present study is a grammatical overview of the Bao'an Tu language (one of the varieties included in the designation 'ISO6393-3:PEH', also known as 'Tongren Monguor', 'Southwestern Monguor', or 'Tongren Tu'). Bao'an Tu is spoken by approximately 4,000 people who live on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau in Tongren County, Huangnan Prefecture, Qinghai Province in the northwest region of the People's Republic of China.

Although the speakers of Bao'an Tu have close cultural ties to surrounding Tibetan groups, their language is clearly of Mongolic origin. According to the Ethnologue, Bao'an is a member of the Monguor sub-branch of the Eastern branch of the Mongolic language family along with the variety of Bao'an spoken in Gansu Province, Kangjia, Tu (including Mangghuer and Mongghul), Dongxiang, and East Yugur (Gordon 2005). Bao'an Tu has SOV word order and suffixing, agglutinative morphology; it also has a large number of enclitics.

This study is based on data collected in Qinghai Province from March 2006 to August 2007 and January 2009 to August 2009. It uses Basic Linguistic Theory (Dixon 1997, Dryer 2006) to describe the grammar of Bao'an Tu, including its phoneme inventory and syllable structure, morphology and cliticization, the noun phrase, the clause, and clause combining. It also includes an appendix with three Bao'an Tu oral texts. At every level of the grammar, the influence of local Tibetic varieties (primarily spoken Amdo Tibetan and Modern Literary Tibetan) is apparent. Examples of this include the size and make-up of the phoneme inventory, the word order of constituents in the noun phrase, and a fully developed system of speaker perspective (also known as the conjunct/disjunct distinction in Tibetic languages).

It is my hope that this synchronic descriptive grammar of Bao'an Tu will be useful to as broad an audience of linguists as possible, including typologists, area specialists, Mongolic specialists, and explanatory theorists alike; especially since language shift is underway among the language community, and language death appears to be imminent.