Record Voices of The Sizang Language of Burma

Independent Researcher
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Open Access
DOI: 10.18258/4576
Raised of $654 Goal
Funded on 4/03/15
Successfully Funded
  • $662
  • 101%
  • Funded
    on 4/03/15

About This Project

I would like to travel to Maryland, USA to spend one week with the Sizang community that resides there. I plan to elicit and record stories and lexical items (words), record conversation between native speakers and valuable cultural information. Most importantly, I hope to form lasting relationships with the Sizang people and encourage them to continually use their language and teach it to their children. Upon returning from Maryland, I will digitize all of the data that I obtained, transcribe the recordings into IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), and upload it all to my website/blog Sizangkam, making it accessible to all who wish to view it (especially the Sizang community). From there, there are two ways I would like to utilize the data: As I enter graduate school, I will perform morphological and syntactical analysis on the data to broaden research on Kuki-Chin. I also am planning to make an online dictionary of Sizang, open-source with examples.

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What is the context of this research?

In the North West region of Burma (Myanmar) and in Northeast India lives a group of people known by several different names, such as: Chin, Zo, Zomi, Kuki, or Kuki-Chin. It is a society categorized by clans. Some tribes, such as the Hmar, were known as fierce headhunters.

In Linguistic literature, the language family of this group is referred to as Kuki-Chin, a sub-group of Tibeto-Burman. The language I hope to research at a graduate and post-graduate level is called Sizang Chin (or Siyin Chin, by Burmese and English-speakers). The language is tonal, as are many Tibeto-Burman languages, but it is oddly (as one researcher noted) not monosyllabic, quite inflectional, and has very detailed syntax.

Several dated articles and books about Sizang are listed on my website.

What is the significance of this project?

As one can see here on my website, there is a small amount of linguistic research and analysis that has to do with the Sizang language. However, most primary source material used in this research is quite old (ranging from over two decades to over a century in age). Therefore, this research trip aims to collect high-quality digital recordings from Sizang speakers of various demographics, and make them available online for other researches to use and analyze in the future.

  • This provides the linguistic community with raw and recent linguistic data.
  • Provides the Sizang language community with archived recordings of their spoken language and stories.
  • Provides supporters and backers the assurance that their contribution will help produce results that will be archived for generations.

What are the goals of the project?

  1. Travel to Maryland and personally meet many members of the Sizang community there.
  2. Record stories, conversations, recitations, and lexical items (words), both elicited and dictated by Sizang speakers.
  3. Archive the materials first on my website, looking for a more permanent home for long-term storage.
  4. Transcribe all recordings using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)
  5. Search for new lexical items to add to my Sizang digital lexicon, once it's created.
  6. Allow other linguistic researchers and Sizang community members full access to these data for whatever use they choose.


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Transportation: I used GasBuddy to calculate the price of gas based on the current prices ($2.19-$2.25) from my city to Maryland, and multiplied that price by 2 to get $176.92. I then adjusted for a possible rise in gas prices to get $190.

Lodging: I'll be staying at the Days Inn (w/tax $66.27/night) X 7 nights is $463.89.

The $650 dollars I am asking for on experiment is not the full amount I require to complete this project. I am willing to pay for:

  1. All food
  2. Any other misc. costs

So please, contribute whatever amount you are comfortable with, and know that you have had just as much of a part in this as I.

==Access to blocked materials on my website will be granted to those who contribute $50 or more!==

Meet the Team

Tyler Davis
Tyler Davis

Team Bio

Tyler has been fascinated in languages of Burma (Myanmar) since the Spring of 2010 when he met a Burmese student in his Biology class that showed him how her name is written. Shocked to hear that not many foreigners succeeded in learning Burmese, he took it upon himself to study the language and formed many relationships with people from Burma living all over the world.

His interests in Chin languages and cultures grew in the Summer of 2014 after meeting several researchers of Tedim Chin at SEALS 24 (The 24th Annual South East Asian Linguistics Society Conference, held in Yangon (Rangoon), Burma). His first piece of research regarding Kuki-Chin was an honors thesis he wrote before earning his B.A. entitled: The Acquisition, Use, and Attitude of The Burmese Language According to Individuals from The Chin Hills of Myanmar, which is a paper with a sociolinguistic focus.

Recently, he created Sizangkam. A website and blog entirely devoted to the Sizang language. It includes a list of projects Tyler and other volunteers are undertaking, as well as many resources about the Sizang language. Tyler plans to create an online Sizang lexicon, which combines the academic sources of several linguists with the resources of Sizang people. This lexicon will support word look-up in three languages: English, Burmese, and Sizang.

Tyler hopes to utilize this trip to provide him with a lot of raw data which he can analyze in graduate school and use in the future to benefit the Sizang community.

Tyler Davis

I received my B.A. in Germanic Studies from Indiana University, however, since the age of 16, I've auto-didactically studied Linguistics. I am interested in many of its fields, namely: phonology, morphology, syntax, sociolinguistics, and historical linguistics. Currently, my focus is on languages of Burma (Myanmar), a country in Southeast Asia located between Thailand, India, and China. The language I am currently studying, Sizang Chin, is a member of the Kuki-Chin branch of Tibeto-Burman. A language family whose "parent" is Sino-Tibetan, making many languages of China its "sibling" (using layman terms). Currently, I'm interested in Language Documentation, Language Revitalization (some prefer the term Language Reclamation, to avoid the metaphor of language death), and Field Linguistics. I hope to contribute much to experiment while I'm here, and I hope to obtain a Ph.D. in Linguistics and become a tenured Professor.

Additional Information

Please visit my website devoted to the Sizang language to view the many projects I have planned.

Project Backers

  • 21Backers
  • 101%Funded
  • $662Total Donations
  • $31.52Average Donation
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