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Introduction

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Chapter Summary

This is the introductory chapter of the book, which encompasses two closely related varieties of Wa, namely Paraok and Bible Wa, described in Diffloth (1980), as represented in the corpus of printed Wa texts assembled for the purpose of compiling the dictionary. Far from being a single language, Wa encompasses a diverse cluster of closely related dialects, many of them not mutually understandable. Paraok and Bible Wa have reasonable currency as de facto standard varieties of the language and are widely understood. The corpus of Wa language material comprises everything which could be obtained, rather than a targetted and balanced corpus of the language. One part of the corpus is printed in the roman-alphabet orthography developed in the People's Republic of China in the 1950s which was used to produce school readers, a few dozen books on topics such as cultural traditions, agriculture, Wa herbal medicine, and Chinese politics.

Keywords: Bible Wa; Chinese politics; corpus of Wa language material; Paraok Wa; Wa herbal medicine

10.1163/9789004260580_002
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