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Ford Gift to Fund Nushu Language Museum

Thanks to a gift from the Ford foundation, a unique museum to record and preserve Nushu language is expected to be built in 2007 in Jiangyong County in Hunan.

Speaking last week, a Hunan government official announced US$209,000 in sponsorship from the U.S.-based charitable foundation, with the aim of preserving the rare culture of the Nushu language which is threatened with extinction.

A written and spoken language used only by women, Nushu was "discovered" by linguists in Jiangyong County in the 1980s.

Possibly the world's only female-specific language, spoken Nushu describes women's misfortunes and inner feelings.

The language can be written using rhombic characters made with just four strokes, including dots, horizontals and arcs.

With more and more Nushu speakers passing away, time is running out to create a permanent record of the language, which is now on the verge of extinction.

The museum will house 80 manuscripts, and audio recordings of over 1,000 songs, as well as a wide range of articles and artifacts, many of which have a history that can be traced back over 100 years.

Cao Xuequn, the project's curator, said the new museum would comprise two parts.

One part would focus on the Nushu language environment, presenting Nushu language within its natural environment, while the other part would be an information center to record and preserve the Nushu heritage.

(Shenzhen Daily July 12, 2005)

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