Language Dilemma – Li Li

From Beijing Review:

When Xu Shixuan, a linguist from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, returned to a southwestern county bordering Myanmar in 2002 to study the local language after a nine-year interval, she was struck by the change to Li Xuewen, a master storyteller in the village. Xu could not relate the silent and listless old man with watery, turbid eyes to her vivid memory of Li reciting tales of his ancestors. When Li’s fellow villagers told Xu that a serious illness several years ago had led to the changes to the old man, Xu felt sorry both for Li, and for the human history that could be lost forever before being recorded. [Full Text]

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