I. Learning, Use and Development of the Spoken and Written Tibetan Languages

A member of the Han-Tibetan language family, Tibetan has been an important tool of communication for the people in Tibet over thousands of years, and an important symbol and carrier of Tibetan culture. It holds a special position among the diverse languages and cultures of the Chinese nation. For over a half century, the Chinese government has attached great importance to guaranteeing the Tibetan people's right to learn and use the Tibetan language, both the spoken and written, and has made huge efforts in promoting the learning, use and development of it, registering major progress.

The learning and use of the spoken and written Tibetan languages are guaranteed by law. The Constitution of the People's Republic of China and the Law on Ethnic Regional Autonomy both clearly prescribe that all ethnic minorities have the freedom to use and develop their own spoken and written languages. The Tibet Autonomous Region issued and implemented the Several Provisions of the Tibet Autonomous Region on the Learning, Use and Development of Tibetan (Trial) in 1987 and the Detailed Rules for the Implementation of Several Provisions of the Tibet Autonomous Region on the Learning, Use and Development of Tibetan (Trial) in 1988, specifying that equal importance is given to both Tibetan and Chinese in Tibet, with priority given to Tibetan. In 2002, the Tibet Autonomous Region revised the above provisions for trial implementation into the Provisions of the Tibet Autonomous Region on the Learning, Use and Development of Tibetan, providing a reliable legal guarantee in this respect. To promote this work, in 1988 the Language Steering Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region was set up, later renamed the Language Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Tibetan language translation institutes have been established in all prefectures (cities) and counties. At present there are over 100 Tibetan language translation institutes and nearly 1,000 specialists in translation and relevant work in Tibet.

The spoken and written Tibetan languages have been widely learned and carried forward. In old Tibet, it was a privilege of the nobility and a few monks to learn the proper Tibetan language, whereas serfs and slaves, who accounted for 95 percent of the total population, had no right in this respect whatsoever. After the peaceful liberation of Tibet, the Central People's Government paid great attention to the learning and popularization of Tibetan, and made clear requirements for people who were to go to Tibet on learning, using and spreading Tibetan. In the 1950s it held short-term training courses on Tibetan, training courses for young people, social education courses, and training courses in agricultural technologies, finance and accounting, and movie-making technology in Qamdo, Lhasa, Xigaze and other places, encouraging, supporting and organizing people of all ethnic groups in Tibet to learn Tibetan as well as science and technology. After the Tibet Autonomous Region was set up in 1965, it was stipulated that schools of all kinds and at all levels must lay stress on the learning and use of Tibetan and strengthen work on the teaching of Tibetan. A bilingual teaching system was adopted in an all-round way in the educational sector of Tibet, with priority given to teaching in Tibetan. At present, Tibetan-Chinese teaching is adopted in all the farming and pastoral areas, and in some urban primary schools, with the major courses being taught in Tibetan. Tibetan-Chinese teaching is also adopted in high schools. Moreover, courses in the Tibetan language have been opened at Tibetan high schools in the inland areas of China. In the matriculation examinations for institutions of higher learning and secondary vocational schools, Tibetan is a subject of examination and the score is included in the total score. There are now 15,523 bilingual teachers and 10,927 Tibetan-language teachers in Tibet. Altogether, 181 textbooks, 122 reference books and 16 teaching programs covering 16 subjects from primary to senior high school have been compiled and translated in the Tibet Autonomous Region. Tibetan has been unprecedentedly popularized at all schools in Tibet.

The spoken and written Tibetan languages are widely used. Since the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region in 1965, both Tibetan and Chinese have been used for resolutions, laws and regulations adopted by the people's congresses at all levels, and official documents and public notices of people's governments and subordinate departments at all levels. During judicial proceedings, Tibetan is used in hearing any case involving Tibetan people, and the written Tibetan language is used for legal papers. Both Tibetan and Chinese are used for official seals, credentials, forms, envelopes, letter paper, writing paper and signs of all entities; logos of government departments, factories and mines, schools, bus and train stations, airports, shops, hotels, restaurants, cinemas, tourist attractions, sports venues and libraries; as well as signs for streets and traffic.

Since its establishment, the Tibetan People's Radio (TPR) has persisted in making good Tibetan radio programs. It now has 42 programs broadcast in standard Tibetan, including 21 hours a day for news in Tibetan, and 18 hours a day in the Kamba dialect. The TPR's annual capacity for dubbing Tibetan TV programs increased from 1,200 hours in 1996 to 9,235 hours in 2007. The Tibet Television Station formally opened a Tibetan satellite TV channel in 1999. With 21 Tibetan programs, and films and TV dramas dubbed in Tibetan, it is very popular among people of all ethnic groups in Tibet. Starting from October 1, 2007, Tibet satellite TV broadcasts 24 hours a day. Films and TV dramas dubbed in Tibetan reached 500 hours (639 episodes) in 2007, including 564 copies of films and 35 programs. Every year 25 new films dubbed in Tibetan are shown in farming and pastoral areas.

Tibetan book, newspaper and periodical publication is developing rapidly. There are nine publishing houses in China that publish books in Tibetan, including China Tibetology Publishing House, Ethnic Publishing House, Tibet People's Publishing House and Tibetan Ancient Books Publishing House. They publish more than 1,000 titles in Tibetan every year. Many ancient Tibetan books previously kept in private libraries or with only one copy extant have been collated by experts, and then published and distributed. At present, there are 14 Tibetan periodicals and ten Tibetan newspapers in Tibet. Over 20 periodicals in China have Tibetan-language versions. The Tibetan version of Tibet Daily was expanded in July 2002 from 28 pages to 36 pages, and its daily circulation now reaches 25,000 copies. Tibetan newspapers and periodicals, such as Tibetan Science and Technology, Tibetan Scientific and Technological Information and A Guide to Help You Get Rich, are very popular among the farmers and herdsmen thirsty for scientific and technological knowledge in order to learn more experiences and master good methods in a bid to improve their lives and welfare.

There are now over 4,000 art and literary workers in the region, with 90 percent being Tibetans. There are ten professional performing art groups, four children's performing art groups, 18 folk art troupes, over 500 amateur village art and literary teams, and 160 Tibetan opera teams. These art and literary groups create programs and perform in Tibetan, and often go deep in farming and pastoral areas.

The spoken and written Tibetan languages are developing in all respects. In 1984 a Tibetan-script processing system compatible with Chinese and English versions was developed, and so precise Tibetan-script photo typesetting was realized. In 1997, an international-standard Tibetan character code was approved by the International Standards Organization, making the Tibetan script the first ethnic minority script in China with an international standard. At present, a Tibetan grammar framework and a grammar system have been set up for automatic machine processing in Tibet, and the work to enable automatic word segmentation and chunking identification of texts in the Tibetan script by machine is under way. A machine-based Tibetan-Chinese dictionary (120,000 entries) has been completed, while an electronic dictionary of Tibetan grammar needed for machine translation has been set up, laying a solid foundation for passing down, spreading and carrying forward Tibetan culture in the information age.

The application of computer technology and wide use of the Internet have provided a new platform for the learning, use and development of the Tibetan language. An advanced Tibetan-script editorial system, laser photo typesetting system and electronic publishing system developed independently in China have been widely applied in the press and publication field of Tibet. Through Tibetan platforms on the Internet and mobile phones, Tibetans can browse, read, listen to or watch domestic and world news and get access to various kinds of information. Tibetan has also been widely adopted for postal and telecommunications services in Tibet, including Tibetan telegram, Tibetan paging and Tibetan SMS. The advent of an identification system for Tibetan documents marked the prelude to a campaign to apply Tibetan script identification in the digitalization of the Tibetan language.

The standardization of Tibetan has also made great progress. In 2005 the Rules on Translating New Words and Terms and Using Borrowed Words was drawn up. Altogether, over 3,500 Tibetan terms concerning the market economy and primary and high school education were approved and standardized, nearly 60,000 scientific and technological terms were approved, and over 8,000 terms concerning computer interfacing were translated and approved. Over the years, many Tibetan dictionaries and other language reference books have been published, including A Tibetan Dictionary by Geshe Chosta, A Comprehensive Tibetan Dictionary, A Tibetan-Chinese Spoken Dictionary, Chinese-Tibetan Glossary, Tibetan-Chinese Glossary, A Tibetan-Chinese Dictionary, A Tibetan-Chinese Dictionary of the Market Economy and A Tibetan-Chinese Law Dictionary. In addition, the Plan for Standardizing the Tibetan Language has been drafted, while the work to collect and collate materials for the Standard Manual for Transliterating Tibetan Personal Names into Chinese Characters has been completed.