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Naxi scripts

Written by Luc Devroye
McGill University
Montreal, Canada
lucdevroye@gmail.com
http://luc.devroye.org
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Simon Ager's page on Naxi scripts, Dongba and Geba. "The Naxi language (a.k.a. Nakhi, Naqxi, Nasi or Moso) is a Sino-Tibetan language, though some linguists classify it as a Burmese-Lolo language. About 250,000 people speak Naxi in the Chinese province of Yunnan, particularly around the town of Lijiang. There are also Naxi people in Sichuan, Tibet and possibly in Burma/Myanmar." About Dongba, which has about 1400 beautiful glyphs, he writes: "The Naxi Dongba (a.k.a. Tomba or dto-mba) script was reputedly invented by King Moubao Azong in the 13th century. It is used exclusively by the Dongba (shamans/priests) as an aid to the recitation of ritual texts during religious ceremonies and shamanistic rituals. The Naxi language and script was discouraged after the Communist victory in 1949 and actively suppressed during the Cultural Revolution in the 60s when thousands of manuscripts were destroyed. Today only a handful of people can read and write the dongba script, and all of them are over 70, though efforts are being made to preserve the script and a number of students are learning it. A newspaper was pubished during the 1980s printed in the Dongba script and the Latin alphabet in an attempt to increase the level of literacy among the Naxi people in their own language. Over 30 books were also published. There efforts were successful at first - in 1982, 200 people could read Naxi in the Latin alphabet. By 1985, 1,700 could do so. Unfortunately the Chinese government phased out Naxi language teaching in the late 80s."

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Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html