Dictionary of Kammu Yùan Language and Culture

$160.00 SGD

by Jan-Olof Svantesson, Kàm Ràw (Damrong Tayanin), Kristina Lindell, and Håkan Lundstrom

By retaining their orally based culture through to the present day, the Kammu of northern Laos and adjacent parts of Vietnam, Thailand and China have long been recognised as a repository for much that has been lost or ignored in the literate cultures of their lowland neighbours. Many studies of Kammu folklore, music and society have been published as a result. Arguably, its crowning achievement is finally to appear.

Ostensibly, this is a dictionary of the Yùan dialect of Kammu but the reality is far more: a vast, encyclopaedic reference work that details not only some 13,000 words but also describes all aspects of Kammu life, including rites and ceremonies, implements, plants and animals. The richness of this detail is largely based on author Kàm Ràw’s personal knowledge and experience as a Kammu hunter, swidden farmer and shaman. The result is an essential reference work that not only details the life, language and culture of the Kammu but also offers a rich insight into the worlds of minority peoples elsewhere in upland Southeast Asia and southern China.

"This 462-page culturally focused dictionary is a highly valuable resource to both linguists and anthropologists interested in the Kammu people specifically, but also the indigenous groups of mainland Southeast Asia." - Mark J. Alves, Journal of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society

Kàm Ràw (1938–2011) grew up in a Kammu village in northern Laos. He came to Sweden in 1974 to work in Kristina Lindell’s Kammu project. Under his Lao name Damrong Tayanin, he was the author or co-author of several books on Kammu folktales and the traditional Kammu lifestyle.

Jan-Olof Svantesson is a professor of Linguistics at Lund University, Sweden.

Kristina Lindell (1928–2005) was Senior Lecturer in Chinese at Lund University, where she started the Kammu project (including work on this dictionary) in 1972.

Håkan Lundström is Dean of the Malmö Faculty of Fine and Performing Arts, Lund University. His research specialization is in ethnomusicology and he has written about song, music and music terminology among the Kammu.

Publication year: 2003
500 pp / 234mm x 156mm
Richly illustrated
ISBN: 978-87-7694-116-1, Hardback

NIAS Press