Language is a symbol of a nation and an important feature that distinguishes it from other nations (Chen & Su, 2015). But nowadays, with the rapid development of society and the rapid advancement of urbanization, and the popularization of Mandarin, it has affected the spread of some minority languages, and even caused the disappearance of minority languages (Feng, 2020). Therefore, many people are also consciously protecting minority languages. According to the research we have conducted this time, the Samei language in Ala Township, Kunming City has been weakened but has not died down; it is necessary to take corresponding measures in time to protect it. According to the interviews, it was found that only middle-aged and elderly people can speak Samei language, and most of the youth and children even lost their ability to speak Samei language. In order to better protect and inherit the Samei language, the government, society, family and people should actively participate. The protection of Samei language is the responsibility and obligation of every Samei people. Everyone should have national pride (Yao, 2017); as a national business card, language should be protected and passed on by all Samei people. Through various media, efforts should be made to introduce national unique assets to the whole country and the world.
2. The Distribution and Current Situation of Samei Words
2.1. Geographical Distribution
In the early 1950s, the Samei people were classified as the Yi nationality after national identification, and they have since belonged to a branch of the Yi nationality (Zhu, 2015). The Samei people call themselves “Lalupa” lɑ⁵³lu³³pʰɑ³¹, “Sanipa” sɑ³ni³³pʰɑ³¹, and “Lolapa” lɔ³³lɑ³³pʰɑ³¹. They call themselves “Lalupa” lɑ⁵³lu³³pʰɑ³¹. The Samei people are mainly distributed in Ala Yi Township and Dabanqiao Sub-district Office, Guandu District, Kunming City, Yunnan Province. The Ala, Gaopo, Haizi, Shiba, among which Puzhao Community is the main settlement area of the Samei people. In addition, the Samei people are also distributed in 46 villages in Shuanglong and Qingyun Sub-district Offices, and some are located in Xishan District, Maitreya, Yiliang, Luoping, Qiubei and Wuding counties.
2.2. National Culture
The Samei people have a rich national traditional culture, with unique costumes and festivals. The traditional festivals that the Samei people love most are Torch Festival and Insect King Festival. The script of the Samei people is called the Xibo, and most of them are in the hands of Xibo, which is what we call Bimo. The Samei people call Xibo pi33mo31, which is roughly the same as that of the northern dialect, but the tonal value is a little different (Chen, Bian, & Li, 1985). Except for Xibo, it is difficult for people to see Xi Bowen among ordinary people. The Xibo is not passed on to the outside world, and it is passed down from the male to the female. Therefore, many Samei peple have never seen Xi Bowen, let alone understand Xi Bowen. The Samei people believe in Buddhism, Taoism, Xiboism, etc. They will invite Xibo to preside over important festivals, and Xibo will be invited to count auspicious days during weddings and funerals.
2.3. The Current Situation of Samei Language
2.3.1. The Population of the Samei Is Gradually Decreasing, and the Usage of the Samei Language Is Not Optimistic
In the 1970s and 1980s, there were close to 10,000 Samei people in Ala Township. At that time, Samei people rarely intermarried with foreigners, and most Samei people could not speak Chinese. But now the Samei people in Ala Township have undergone earth-shaking changes. Many Samei people do not speak the Samei language and generally intermarry with foreigners. At present, there are about seven or eight thousand Samei people in Ala Township. The rapid social and economic development and the rapid progress of urbanization have caused many Samei people to lose the ability to speak own mother tongue. After this investigation, it was found that most children in Ala Township do not speak Samei language, and they rarely speak Samei language in ordinary communication.
2.3.2. The Language Environment for Using Samei Language Is Seriously Lacking
In this place we investigated, there are very few locales using Samei language, only the older generations or older people speak Samei language. As the descendants of the Samei people hardly use the Samei language, the language environment for using the Samei language in the family is lacking, resulting in more children not speaking the Samei language.
2.3.3. With the Popularization of Mandarin and the Integration and Contact of Various Ethnic Languages and Cultures, the Environment for Using Samei Language Is Gradually Disappearing
Almost all the Samei people in Guandu District use Chinese to communicate, and few people use Samei language. Most of the Samei peple intermarried with the Han nationality and their children almost used Chinese. Coupled with the popular use of mandarin in recent years, many children use mandarin to communicate, resulting in fewer and fewer occasions for using Samei language.
3. Problems in the Protection and Inheritance of Samei Language
Language is an indispensable carrier in human development, and it is also a medium. People use language for daily communication activities (Wang, 2018). A nation must have its own language, even if there is no text, it can be spread its culture by word of mouth. The Samei language is the mother tongue of the Samei people and the native language of the Yi language (Su, 2015). After investigation, it is found that the Samei people pay less attention to their national culture and have a low sense of identity, causing a large part of the Samei people to lose their ability to speak Samei language. This is a loss of national culture and even a loss of national capital. The author proposes the reasons for the weakening of the Samei language on the above issues as follows:
3.1. Negative Language Attitude
Local people believe that speaking ethnic languages will affect all aspects of development, especially children’s academic performance. Therefore, it is best for children not to speak their native language and not to teach them to speak their mother tongue. This is a negative language attitude phenomenon. At present, many children do not speak their mother tongue, and thus children lose their ability to speak their mother tongue.
3.2. The Rapid Progress of Urbanization and the Implementation of Urban-Rural Integration Have Accelerated the Contact and Integration of Languages of Various Ethnic Groups, and the Language Environment Is Gradually Disappearing
With the improvement of the national economic level, society is constantly developing, and people are constantly pursuing a high-quality standard of living. As a result, people are going out to work one after another, which has increased the population flow to a certain extent, and formed the integration and contact of various ethnic languages, resulting in the gradual decrease in the frequency of using the ethnic language and the disappearance of the native language environment.
3.3. Lack of Government Policy Support
The government should vigorously promote the use of ethnic culture as a tourism propaganda film in the region to allow more tourists to visit and travel. On the one hand, it can increase the income of local ethnic minorities and on the other hand, it can also increase tourism income. Some government personnel lack the awareness of using ethnic languages, and they pay more attention to the surface in terms of policy implementation. The government should actively adopt effective policies and measures to protect ethnic culture.
3.4. Single Channel to Promote Mother Tongue
The Samei people should promote their national language as much as possible, such as launching some activities or promoting through the Internet media, so that more Samei people can speak the Samei language, and more families create an environment for their children to use the Samei language, to improve children’s national pride and make them proud of it.
3.5. Samei Has Not Yet Entered the School, and There Is a Shortage of Talents from All Parties
None of the schools where the Samei tribes offers courses in Samei, and their school does not have a professional Samei language teacher, so the students mainly speak Mandarin, and most of the students use Mandarin instead of their mother tongue.
3.6. The Popularization of Mandarin Affects the Use of Mother Tongue to a Certain Extent
Mandarin has been widely promoted throughout the country. Mandarin is taught in kindergartens. Parents are encouraged to use mandarin to communicate with children at home. Therefore, there are fewer and fewer environments for children to use the national language, which affects the development and inheritance of the mother tongue.
4. Remedial Suggestions for the Protection and Inheritance of Samei Language
4.1. Establish a Correct Language Attitude and Create a Good Language Environment
In the process of inheriting and protecting the Samei words, we must correctly guide the Samei people to use the Samei language, and strive to build an environment for the use of the Samei language. Let the Samei people use their mother tongue every day and cultivate a positive language attitude, so that the Samei people can feel that they use it and enjoy it. To establish a correct and positive language attitude needs to be cultivated from an early age, so that the Samei children can speak Samei fluently in their early childhood, and at the same time create a good environment for using Samei language. The family is the first place to use language and one of the most important language environments. Fully publicize and give play to the family language environment. Let more Samei people use Samei at home and speak Samei fluently. Encourage schools to open more cultural activities in Samei and create a language environment for communicating in Samei. The government should vigorously support and encourage the use of Samei language, improve policy support, and improve the status of Samei language, so that Samei language can be used everywhere and saw everywhere.
4.2. Improve Policy Support and Promote the Culture of Mother Tongue through Multiple Channels
Use multimedia for large-scale dissemination. Use Samei language to promote in advertising language, television, public transport, mobile phones, etc. At the same time, linguistic experts are invited to draw up phonetic symbols for Samei language for everyone to learn, and some Samei culture will be compiled into books in Samei language and distributed to students and parents. It is the responsibility and obligation of every Samei people to protect the national culture. In the place where the Samei people live, a village group classroom interest class was created, and the respected Samei people were used for preaching. They mainly used the Samei language to explain the Samei culture, which is also a way to pass on the Samei language.
4.3. Encourage Schools to Offer Relevant Courses and Cultivate Professional Talents
Support the use of Samei language in campus classrooms, let teachers attach importance to the use of Samei language, and enhance the national pride of teachers and students. In order to increase children’s interest in learning Samei language, schools should organize more national cultural competitions in Samei language for speeches, plays, and tell stories. At the same time, regular assessments and rewards for the mastery of Sameilanguagecan inspire children's learning enthusiasm.
A large number of ethnic talents are selected and hired, so that they can use Samei language to spread national culture, so that the Samei people realize the importance of Samei language. Relevant practical policies should also be introduced. For example, the entrance examination to make Samei language a compulsory subject, and to include Samei language into the evaluation for employment and interviews, so as to encourage everyone to learn Samei words, so as to better protect Samei language faster.
4.4. Vigorously Support the Inheritance and Protection of Mother Tongue While Promoting Mandarin
The harmony and prosperity of the society cannot be separated from the unity of the people of all ethnic groups. In order to better develop the culture of the Samei national, every Samei people has the responsibility and obligation to inherit and protect the same language while learning the same language to spread the Samei culture. In order to better develop the culture of the Samei pepole, every Samei people has the responsibility and obligation to inherit and protect the samei language while learning the Samei language and spread the Samei culture outward.
The Samei people should be proud of being a minority, because the minority has its unique national culture that cannot be copied (Li, 2019). The Samei people are too much affected by external factors and their language attitudes have changed, causing many Samei people to not realize the protection of the Samei language, let alone think that the Samei language will disappear in the world someday in the future. When a nation loses its national language, the nation may face extinction. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen the use of Samei language, improve the teaching level and scope of Samei language, and allow more Samei people to create an environment for using Samei language, and use their own national language and various ethnic cultures for diversified communication, integration and contact. Make the national culture richer.
Language is the most important communication tool for human beings, as well as a tool for thinking and information transmission. Language is national and special. Protecting and inheriting a language requires multiple efforts. One side of water and soil nurtures one side, and the other side of water and soil has a local voice. In order to keep this local accent forever, it is necessary to increase efforts to protect and inherit the Samei culture, to consciously cultivate the native language ability of the next generation of Samei people, to allow the majority of Samei people to establish the correct language attitude, and to continuously improve the Samei people national pride sense.
This research was supported by Southwest Minzu University 2020 graduate academic innovation project general project “Research on the Protection and Inheritance of Samei Language”, No:CX2020SP106.