Last update: 09:10 | 26/05/2018
In Vietnam, Tay is the mother tongue of nearly 2 million people and a second language for many other ethnic minority people in Vietnam’s northwestern region. The language is starting to be displaced by Vietnamese, and many Tay people are finding it harder to use their mother tongue.
Tay girls in their traditional costumes. (Photo: yenthe.vn)
Some universities have introduced the Tay language into their curricula in an effort to preserve the traditional Tay culture.
Dam Thi Tam, a teacher of ethnic minority cultures at Thai Nguyen University of Sciences, said: “It’s extremely important for the students because, first, it will help them adapt to life in Tay or Nung ethnic areas when they go there on fact-finding trips. Second, it will facilitate their work in those regions after graduation.”
She said the students study writing and speaking skills and the customs of the Tay people.
Tam, who helped write a Tay language textbook and has taught the Tay language for years, elaborated: “Each lesson in the book focuses on a custom of the Tay people. Linguistics is combined with the group’s culture. For example, in one lesson we introduce Tay dishes, their ways of eating and drinking, and their food for ordinary needs as well as festivals and holidays.”
Hoang Thi Thuy, a Kinh student, is new to the language. She said: “This is the first time I’ve studied Tay, a tongue I have never heard. At first I had difficulties with the pronunciation and meaning of the words. With my teachers’ help, the subject has become easier. Now I can write and speak Tay.”
Including the Tay language in university curricula is one way to help the Tay preserve their culture.