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Reference Works in Progress: Excerpts from An Iu Mien-English Dictionary With Cultural Notes Herbert C. Purnell, Compiler and Editor© Copyright 2006-2007 by Herbert C. Purnell. All rights reserved. Introduction Al? Iu Mien-EnglishDictionary With CulturalNotes (IMEDCN) is a L20-year project nearing completion. It provides a record of the Iuh Mienh1 language as it has been used in northern Laos and Thailand. IMEDCN contains over 5,400 main entries and more than 27,000 subentries. It has roughly 1,500 culture notes, 2,700 usage notes, and 4,200 full illustrative sentences, making it the most extensive collection of Mien vocabulary currendy available. Obviously, this does not even come close to being a complete record of the language. Rather, the entries are representative of many of the areas, or domains , of the language. IMEDCN began in 1987 as a revision of the Yao-English Dictionary (Lombard and Purnell 1968), the first published dictionary of Mien. However, it soon became apparent that what was needed was a 'The letter -h at the end of both Iuh and Mienh is a tone ktter. It indicates diat both words are to be pronounced widi a vocal pitch diat falls from die mid range to low. The hyphen indicates diat a tone has changed to become —h. Tones, tone letters, and tone change are described in later sections. Dictionaries:Journal oftheDictionary Sodety ofNorth America 28 (2007), 69-130 70Herbert C. Purnell new and expanded work. With the help of two senior research associates in Thailand, V. Ann Burgess and Zanh Gueix-Fongc, entries and examples were compiled from a variety of Mien oral expressions and written sources over a number of years. A computerized concordance of some 1,300,000 words of text was compiled. Some material was also obtained from scholarly and specialized works and also from published and unpublished Mien dictionaries and word lists. All words, from whatever source, were checked with speakers in Thailand and, if considered acceptable, revised as needed. The data were entered electronically using SIL International's Multidictionary Formatter (MDF), which is part of the Shoebox program (now upgraded and called Toolbox), with each piece of information (main entry, variants, part of speech, subentry, definition, usage, cultural note, etc.) on a separate coded line. The database was then exported to Microsoft Word, and MDF automatically put it into the final formatting together with headers and footers. Some manual cleanup and shaping was necessary because IMEDCNuses some specific formatting that MDFwas not set up to produce.2 The People and their Language There are a variety of spellings used for the name of this language and ethnic group. The speakers are often called Yao by outsiders , but this term is loosely applied to several closely related, distantly related, and completely unrelated ethnic groups in China and Southeast Asia3 and thus will not be used here. The Iuh Mienh refer to themselves as Iu Mien, Iu-Mien, Iu-Mienh, Iuh Mienh, Yiu Mienh, Yiuh Mienh, or simply Mienh, or Mien.* These various names, all pronounced 2I am grateful to Greg Aumann, of SIL, who took my data that had been entered using a different and less satisfactory lexicography program and converted it to AiDF. Greg also wrote several macros to accommodate most of the particular formatting needs. 3There is also a completely unrelated Yao group found in Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. 4The most accurate spelling may be Yiuh Mienh since the tones on both words and the initial consonant of the first word reflect the correspondence with Chinese Yao2 ren2, 'Yao (or Yiu) people.' However, this spelling is not the one most commonly used in the refugee community. Excerpts from An Iu Mien-English Dictionary71 in the same way, have been used within the community by one group or another to help establish their identity. For the sake of simplicity, just two of the spellings are used in the dictionary. When writing the language itself, as in entries, subentries, and example sentences, Iuh Mienh will be used. However, when using English for definitions and notes, Iu Mien (without the tone letters) will be used. The other spellings are treated as variants. Finally, in writing generally about the people...


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