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Date : 09-22-13

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New in Hmong Language

Hmong Language, Inc 

Research and Study Criteria

In order to help guide us in our search of, and improve, our language which, many fear, is losing, the Hmong Language, Inc. (HLI) has adopted the following criteria.


  1. We work locally but think globally in respect to the potential of bringing our Hmong linguistically closer together.
  1. We must agree that White and Green Hmong are from the same linguistic origin. Agreeing so, much of our dialect differences is not due to branches (White or Green) but due to tone and vowel changes over time and space. 
  1. Before developing new words, we must first research within our Hmong communities throughout the world and adopt from one another. The idea is to eventually make easier for our Hmong throughout the world to learn each other's dialect with the hope that one day we all can speak and write the same language, again. Thus, for example, over 3 million Hmong in Yunnan and Vietnam have used the word “kiab” for week for decades or hundreds of years. So, why should we create a new word for week which will linguistically drive us one word further apart?
  1. Since a great percentage of our words was loaned from the Chinese, and Chinese language is linguistically closer to Hmong’s, we may want to stay consistent with Chinese for our loanwords. This means when looking for new words we must first look within our Hmong, then Chinese, and then beyond. Doing so will be easier for Hmong throughout the world to integrate our dialects since the majority already knows Chinese.
  1. Such universal words like TV, phone, computer, website, etc should be accepted with linguistic modification to fit our language. So, they should simply be “this vis,” “foos,” “koos phis tawj,” and “vas sab.” We should not compromise our loanwords by matching or adopting their foreign pronunciations or our tones of language will be changed accordingly. E.g. email should not be “is mis aos” but simply “is mias" or "is mais." America should simply be “Mes kas.”
  1. If a new word needed to be created, it should have good historical foundation such as the word "kiab" for week or good connectivity to other Hmong words such as "vas sab" for website, “qauv pwm haiv” for popular culture, or kev "ras haiv" for nationalism.
  1. Much of our words can be recovered from our folktales, songs and rituals. E.g. “nqaws tiab, nqaws tsho, nqaws awv.” “Nqaws” must have a meaning which we no long know. So does “awv” which we no longer use.




Hmong Were the First to Grow Rice

After analyzing the Hmong word for rice grain (nab), the Chinese character for Hmong/Miao (苗), and other historical and archaeological evidences, Dr. Guandong Lee, a Chinese professor in Japan, concluded that the Hmong were indeed the first people to grow rice in central China over fourteen thousand years ago. 

Hmong rice was taken to grow on the east coast of today China some eight thousand years ago, in Korea about four thousand years ago, and in Japan around two thousand years ago. Today Hmong rice is grown and fed people throughout the world. The History Channel has recently made a documentary about the history of rice, and it agreed that rice was first grown in China before other parts of the world.

Dr. Lee came to Concordia University's Third Annual Hmong Studies Conference in 2000. His research reaffirmed what Hmong scholars have claimed for decades. A copy of his presentation may be available at the Center for Hmong Studies or contact Yuepheng Xiong of Hmong Language Inc.