The Han-Tibetan family of languages has attracted more and more attention from scholars, language experts said Thursday in an international workshop on world languages.
Once used by most people in the world, the various Han-Tibetan languages were uttered across a wide area including China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal and India.
As the native land of these languages, China has made great progress in this field of study.
Over the past decade, hundreds of works have been published. A number of scholars, including those from China's ethnic areas, have carried out in-depth research on the history and evolution of the languages.
As most of world's languages gradually die out, studying these special languages is important, according to James A. Matisoff, an American linguist of the University of California at Berkeley and the initiator of the workshop.
The extinction of a language is more depressing than that of an animal, Matisoff said.
"When a language dies, the culture it built up also collapses," he said.
Compared with the first international workshop on the Han-Tibetan Family of Languages held in 1968, attended by only eight scholars, some 200 researchers and experts from 17 countries attended this workshop, the 34th of its kind, held in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province.
(People’s Daily October 26, 2001)