Myanmar Minority Language Database
A Dictionary of the Wa Language with Burmese (Myanmar), Chinese, and English Glosses
Internet Database for Minority Languages of Burma (Myanmar)
Wa is a member of the Northern Mon-Khmer language family. More specifically, it is the major language of the Palaungic branch of Mon-Khmer. (See map and chart of Austroasiatic languages, which includes, primarily, the Mon-Khmer family.) Wa is spoken by about one million people in an area on the border between China's Yunnan Province and the Shan State of the Union of Myanmar (Burma). The Wa language has been the subject of several linguistic studies, most of them in Chinese (see our table of publications in and about the Wa language). As noted in Justin Watkins' monograph The Phonetics of Wa (Pacific Linguistics 531, Canberra: Australian National University, 2002), the Wa language has featured in the phonetic literature chiefly on account of its contrastive use of vowel phonation, or register, variously described as breathy vs. clear or lax vs. tense. The only Wa dictionaries which existed hitherto are a few Wa-Chinese dictionaries which are either limited or out-dated.
The SOAS Wa Dictionary Project is a three-year effort (2003-2006), funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to produce a high-quality dictionary, translating Wa into Chinese, Burmese/Myanmar and English. The project uses advanced techniques in corpus-based lexicography, centred on a database and Internet resource, which are also suitable for other languages spoken in Burma/Myanmar besides Wa after the life of the project.
Aims and Objectives
The academic objectives of this project are
The project benefits Wa speakers by:
There are several alternative transcriptions or orthographies in use for spelling the sounds of Wa. See the Wa orthography page for details.
The Wa Dictionary Project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and hosted at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
Please send suggestions, queries or comments to Justin Watkins or Richard Kunst.