The Tibetan vocabulary is growing as more modern words find a place in the 1,300-year-old language of the ethnic group that mainly lives on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
Thanks to translators' efforts, Tibetans learned how to say "train" in their own language, or "megor", after the Qinghai-Tibet Railway opened on July 1, 2006. The line linked the Tibet Autonomous Region with the rest of China by train for the first time.
The list also includes "stock" (gengzi), "securities" (guinzi),"civil servant" (jishabpa), "severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)" (miseiluocei) and a number of other words that are new to the Tibetan people, as the remote plateau region catches up to the pace of rapid development elsewhere.
"It's not easy for translators to express the new words accurately in Tibetan and let the local people understand and accept them," said Cering Toinzhub, of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Compilation and Translation Bureau.
He said that five different Tibetan versions of "SARS" were used when the epidemic broke out in 2003, which caused confusion for medical workers and residents.
A standard Tibetan term for "SARS" was determined after consultations by translators and medical workers, which helped local people learn how to prevent the epidemic, he said.
"Now, we'll notify the media and universities in a timely fashion once a new Tibetan expression is created," he said.
A widely-used Chinese-Tibetan dictionary published in 1991 has 80,000 entries. But it's already being somewhat outdated.
"The dictionary could be said to be all-embracing in the 1990s," Cering Toinzhub said. In the years since, "more new words have come into being along with social development, and many new expressions cannot be found in the dictionary." He said that local translation authorities were compiling a new edition that would include more than 200,000 entries.
"Also, a Tibetan-Chinese-English dictionary has been published. It's very popular now," he said.
Tibet has now about 1,000 Chinese-Tibetan translators, and about 500 new words are introduced to the Tibetan language every year by translators at Cering Toinzhub's bureau.
(Xinhua News Agency April 2,2008)