SILPAKORN UNIVERSITY JOURNAL OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, HUMANITIES, AND ARTS, Vol 15, No 1 (2015)

“Nong” of Southern China: Linguistic, Historical and Cultural Context

Damrongphon Inchan

Silpakorn University


Abstract


Nong people are a branch of Zhuang nationality, settling in Yunnan and Guangxi of Southern China. Like Vietnam’s Nùng, they live in border areas. The autonyms and exonyms referring to them show that there are various branches of Nong around these areas. This paper presents the linguistic classification of Nong/Nung language first. Then, some historical evidences and anthropological perspectives, gathered from surveys and documents about Nong ethnic groups in Southern China, are additionally proposed. According to some phonological criteria, Proto-Tai linguistic classification grouped Nung/Nong as a subgroup of Central Tai. There are arguments amongst scholars whether some Nong dialects in Southern China can be also identified as a subgroup of Northern Tai dialects or not. According to the historical records and ethnohistory, a rebel leader of Nong in 11th century named Nong Zhigao became interesting information for further researches. Nowadays, even though Nong people are culturally influenced by Han Chinese, they still maintain their ancestral culture and tradition.

Keywords: Nong/Nung, Zhuang, ethnicity, Tai linguistic classification,
ethnohistory

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