Santa language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Native to China
Region Gansu province, mainly in Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, and Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region[1]
Native speakers
200,000  (2007)[2]
  • Shirongolic
    • Santa
Arabic, Latin
Language codes
ISO 639-3 sce
Glottolog dong1285[3]

The Santa language, also known as Dongxiang (东乡语), is a Mongolic language spoken by the Dongxiang people in northwest China.


Dongxiang has neither vowel harmony nor distinctions of vowel length.[2]


In common with other Mongolic languages, Dongxiang is basically a subject–object–verb language. In Linxia, however, under the influence of the Mandarin dialects spoken by the neighbouring Hui people, sentences of the subject–verb–object type have also been observed.[4]

Writing system[edit]

Knowledge of Arabic is widespread among the Sarta, and as a result, they often use the Arabic script to write down their language informally (cf. the Xiao'erjing system that was used by Hui people); however, this has been little investigated by scholars. As of 2003, the official Latin alphabet for Dongxiang, developed on the basis of the Monguor alphabet, remained in the experimental stage.[5]


English Classical Mongolian Dongxiang
1 One Nigen Niy
2 Two Qoyar Ghua
3 Three Ghurban Ghuran
4 Four Dorben Jierang
5 Five Tabun Tawun
6 Six Jirghughan Jirghun
7 Seven Dologhan Dolon
8 Eight Naiman Naiman
9 Nine Yisun Yysun
10 Ten Arban Haron

The Tangwang creole language[edit]

Main article: Tangwang language

There are about 20,000 people in the north-eastern part Dongxiang County, who self-identify as Dongxiang or Hui people who don't speak Dongxiang language, but speak natively a Dongxiang-influenced form of Mandarin. The linguist Mei W. Lee-Smith calls this creole language the "Tangwang language" (Chinese: 唐汪话), based on the names of the two largest villages (Tangjia and Wangjia, parts of Tangwang Town) where it is spoken. [6] According to Lee-Smith, the Tangwang language uses mostly Mandarin words and morphemes with Dongxiang grammar. Besides Dongxiang loanwords, Tangwang also has a substantial number of Arabic and Persian loanwords.[6]

Like standard Mandarin, Tangwang is a tonal language, but grammatical particles, which are typically borrowed from Mandarin, but are used in the way Dongxiang morphemes would be used in Dongxiang, don't carry tones.[6]

For example, while the Mandarin plural suffix -men (们) has only very restricted usage (it can be used with personal pronouns and some nouns related to people), Tangwang uses it, in the form -m, universally, the way Dongxiang would use its plural suffix -la. Mandarin pronoun ni (你) can be used in Tangwang as a possessive suffix (meaning "your"). Unlike Mandarin, but like Dongxiang, Tangwang has grammatical cases as well (but only 4 of them, instead of 8 in Dongxiang).[6]


  1. ^ Bao 2006
  2. ^ a b Santa at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  3. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Dongxiang". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  4. ^ Bao 2006, 1.1: 东乡语的语序特点
  5. ^ Kim 2003, p. 348
  6. ^ a b c d Lee-Smith, Mei W.; International Council for Philosophy and Humanistic Studies (1996), "The Tangwang language", in Wurm, Stephen A.; Tyron, Darrell T., Atlas of languages of intercultural communication in the Pacific, Asia, and the Americas, Volume 2, Part 1. (Volume 13 of Trends in Linguistics, Documentation Series)., Walter de Gruyter, pp. 875–882, ISBN 3-11-013417-9  Missing |last2= in Editors list (help)


Further reading[edit]

  • Field, Kenneth Lynn (1997), A grammatical overview of Santa Mongolian, PhD dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara 
  • 马国忠/Ma Guozhong (2001), 东乡语汉语词典/Dongxiang-Chinese Dictionary, Lanzhou: 甘肃民族出版社/Gansu Nationalities Publishing House, ISBN 7-5421-0767-4 
  • Üjiyediin Chuluu (Chaolu Wu) (November 1994). "Introduction, Grammar, and Sample Sentences for Dongxiang". SINO-PLATONIC PAPERS. Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305 USA. 

External links[edit]