Language Resource

Foreword/Jiex Gorn Waac/前 言 

 The Iu Mien/Yao is a monosyllabic language, and traditionally of writing which dates back several centuries, the Iu Mien used the Chinese characters to keep the family records, write letters, song books,  ritual books, spiritual petition books, lyrics and etc.  However, because the Chinese characters are quite disadvantage in many ways for the Iu Mien people.  Therefore, since early 1930s a Romanized script has been devise one for them by Western linguistic.  For over five decades, some of the Iu Mien leaders in Thailand, Mainland China, and the USA had to struggle against all kinds of situation before completion of the Iu Mien Romanized Unified Script for the Iu Mien to use in helping the Iu Mien and others who want to be literate in Iu Mien language.

In 1984 prior to the last changes, the U.S. Iu Mien American delegation of five was sponsored by the Presbytery of Cascades United Presbyterian Church in Portland, Oregon went to mainland China for a literacy conference in Ruyan County (Lorh Ciang Nquenc), Guangdong province.  During the one-day historical conference, the U.S Iu Mien American delegation led by Chao Sengfo (Zhao Fuming), Chao Kao Chiem (Zhao Youcai), Chao Chua Meng, Dr. Herbert C. Purnell, a linguistic from William Carey University of Pasadena, California, and  Deng Yao Seng from Thailand examined the Yao Romanized Script which developed from the Pinyin system by Chinese professors, Pan Cheng Qien, Deng Fang Gui, Liu Pao Yuon, Su De Fu, and Borngh Yauh Mengh, along with some Chinese officials examined the Romanized Script of both sides for efficiency and the way the script was united, then combined them with a compromise and it became a unified script.  However, the U.S Iu Mien American delegation only agreed to carry the finished work back to the U.S. for a national Iu Mien leadership conference for the final result.

Upon returning to the U.S, Chao Sengfo and Chao Kao Chiem called for an Iu Mien national leadership conference which was held in Portland, Oregon on July 21, 1984.  The conference voted overwhelmingly (78/7) to accept the finished work.  After the Chao Sengfo communicated the favorable voting result to both the Iu Mien peoples in China and Thailand.  The Iu Mien in those two countries were very happy, and the finished work has become the worldwide Iu Mien Romanized Unified Script ever since.  Before the establishment of the Iu Mien Romanized Unified Script and the Iu Mien’s communication in writing was difficult and spelling system was inconsistent, sometimes unintelligible.  Therefore I would like to thanks all the people who established the Iu Mien Romanized Unified Script that united the worldwide Iu Mien hearts and minds together.  Their struggles and successes have led me to strongly believe that a dictionary is the most important key to enhance their efforts and to ease the Iu Mien people and others in learning how to read and write the Iu Mien language, and I feel obligated to put my time, knowledge, and energy into a this hard work in order to provide the Iu Mien dictionary.

My educational background is very little, consists of 1 year Chinese, 1 year Thai, 2 years American adult school and 2 years college, a total of 6 years education.  After the surgery on my lower back in 1989 and stomach ulcer surgery in 1990, I was no longer being able to perform any heavy tasks.   I began to work on the Mien-English Dictionary step by step.  However the Iu Mien language is like many other languages, it is difficult to render word for word from Iu Mien into English or from English into Iu Mien, I realized that all the Iu-Mien refugees had to focus on it, and their schooling, works during their transition from the old life and adapt to the new one in the U.S, pretty soon they might lose track of their language and culture.  Therefore, I determined to put my effort to complete this Iu Mien Dictionary for the Iu Mien people.

I personally believe that if we are working in unity, we will be able to provide even more insightful dictionary for the Iu Mien people now and future generations.  Only way to fully promote the Iu Mien literacy is for all Iu Mien to become involved and show their pride in their native language.  I urge all Iu-Mien young, old, and elderly to participate in maintaining and developing our native language.  Unfortunately, with only the limited financial resource and knowledge I am not able to do everything on my own.  I hope you have the same desire as me to improve the Iu Mien dictionary.  I believe that all the Iu Mien people are proud of their heritage and language, please do not hesitate to get involved now as the time is limited for everyone but your participation would be greatly appreciated.

If we do not take the necessary actions needed now to preserve our language, our children and future generations will lose a part of their culture.  They will no longer be able to speak or read in Iu Mien and one day we will not be here to encourage them to hold on to their culture.  Today we are here and we can see that our language and culture have been easily devoured by American culture.  We have to do all we can to make sure our language and culture survive long after we are gone.  For any further corrections or suggestions, please feel free to write to me smith@panh.co and thank you so much for your interest in the Iu Mien dictionary and thank you for your interest in reading about this developmental process. Now we can be very proud that the Iu Mien Romanized Unified Script and this dictionary exist. I hope that our Iu Mien people can be literate in their own language and can help those who want to be literate in the Iu Mien language.

For this English-Mien Dictionary I would like to special thanks the American Webster’s New World Student’s Dictionary, and a new practical English-Chinese and English-Lao Dictionary.  After I completed Mien-English Dictionary in 1995, I began to work on English-Mien and completed it in January 2001.  I strongly believe that the dictionary is the most important key to guide the Iu Mien people in learning to read, write, and study the Mien and English language.  Before the availability of the English-Mien Dictionary, the Iu Mien people always have to use English-Lao, English-Thai or English-Chinese dictionaries instead of English-Mien to assist them to learn and study English language.  However, because it is not their natives language and so many ways disadvantage for them.  Therefore, I feel obligated to put my time, knowledge, and energy in order to provide this English-Mien and Mien-English Dictionary. Thank you so much for your interested in this dictionary and your support.

A brief Iu Mien history, the Iu Mien people were originally migrated from southern China into Southeast Asian countries, such as Vietnam, Laos and Thailand since late 18th and early 19th centuries, just like many other Southeast Asians, the Iu Mien people sought the refugee status because of their support to the American CIA during Vietnam War in Laos.  There was a center for CIA activities in Northern Province of Namtha Laos during the war.  From 1956 on, the Iu Mien people who lived in that area were recruited by the Loyal Lao army and American CIA to fight for freedom until the Laos was taken over by the Communist Lao in 1975.   And those were survive from the war flee to the refugee camps in Thailand and resettled in the United States, Canada and France by the late 1970s and early 1980s.  As this year 2002 the Iu Mien population is approximately 40K in the U.S; 3K in France; 1K in Canada; 65K in Thailand; 20K in Laos; 850K in Vietnam; and 3.5 M in the PR China.

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