ELAR showcase: In memory of Tsendee Yunger

By ELAR Archive|January 9, 2020|Showcase|0 comments

In memory of Tsendee Yunger, an ELDP grantee and ELAR depositor, who passed away in October 2019. We would like to showcase her work today on the ELAR blog, highlighting the beautiful and invaluable work she left with us. 

Tsendee Yunger recording a speaker of the Durvud dialect of Oirat, spoken in Western Mongolia.To access this image in the deposit, click here.

Tsendee Yunger and her language documentation left a left a major mark on both ELDP and ELAR. Dr Mandana Seyfeddinipur states:

Tsendee was a Mongolian scholar who, with the help of her daughter Naidalmaa Miyajav and Benjamin Brosig, applied to ELDP and her application was recommended for funding. She came to London with Naidalmaa  and Benjamin and participated in ELDP training. She was determined to learn as much as she can. She used all her knowledge and provided a rich and beautiful documentary collection of Durvud. Her outstanding photographs were placed on ELDP’s and ELAR’s websites and facebook page showcasing her work. She ran a second project in which she documented Altaic language family-Mongolic languages-Oirat languages.

She fell ill during this project and again that did not stop her providing the best documentary record she could. Her daughter Naidalmaa was the translator between us and Tsendee and she supported her mother’s work. She is still working to ensure that her mother’s legacy is upheld. It was an honour for us at ELDP and at ELAR to work with this amazing, outstanding and dedicated scholar who did not let language barriers stop her. She has contributed to the documentation and preservation of humanity’s intangible cultural heritage and linguistic diversity. Her contribution is invaluable and we mourn her loss.

Her documentation is visible on the ELAR and ELDP site. With the help of her daughter, she created two exemplary deposits:

Documenting the Mongol Uriankhai dialect and culture of Mongolia

Uriankhai shooters with bow and arrow. To access this image in the deposit, click here.

Tsendee was given a Major Documentation Project Grant from ELDP for her work in documenting the Uriankhai dialect, and her deposit includes not only language documentation but also documentation of nomadic life, folk songs, poems, eulogies and folk tales.

Uriankhai is one of the endangered Oirat languages spoken in vast, but sparsely populated regions in Uvs, Khovd and Khuvsgul province of Mongolia. Estimates are that only small minority among the 26,664 Uriankhai still speak the language, which is equal to only one percent of population of Mongolia. Due to the dominance of Kazak and Tuvan in Bayan-Ulgii province, the Khalkha language in Khovd province and Darkhad and Khalkha in Khuvsgul province, Uriankhai is disappearing rapidly.

click here to access her deposit.

Researcher Tsendee with local consultants. To access this image in the deposit, please click here.

Tsendee in countryside household with herder Altankhuu. To access this image in the deposit, click here.

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Documenting the Durvud dialect of Oirat in Western Mongolia

Photograph of Jargal Serchin, taken by Tsendee Yunger. You can listen to Tsendee’s audio recording of Jargal Serchin playing the Oirat traditional music instrument here.

Durvud is another dialect of Oirat, a variety spoken in vast, but sparsely populated regions in western Mongolia such as Uvs, Khovd, and Bayan-Olgii. Due to the increasing dominance of Khalkha, Durvud and other varieties of Oirat are disappearing rapidly, and only a small minority among the 66,706 ethnic Durvuds still speak the language.

Tsendee was granted an ELDP small grant for this documentation project, with which she conducted thorough fieldwork and made almost 200 audio recordings, 170 video recordings along with ELAN transcriptions, and over 200 photographs.

Along with a stunning selection of visual documentation, Tsendee also created a Durvud-Khalkh-English Dictionary.

click here to access her deposit.

Photograph of Devee Togtokh, taken by Tsendee Yunger. To access this image in the deposit, click here.

Tsendee Yunger (bottom left) with local members of the community. To access the image in the deposit, click here.

Our condolences and deepest gratitude for Tsendee’s work in the documentation of humanity’s intangible cultural and linguistic heritage.

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