The language used in the “Then” Worshiping practices of the Tay-Nung Ethnic groups: Field observations in Langson province, Vietnam

Author: Tran Tri Doi, ran Thi Hong Hanh (Hanoi University of Social Sciences and Humanities)
Speaker: Tran Tri Doi, ran Thi Hong Hanh
Topic: Language Documentation
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2019 General Session


The Tay and the Nung in the province of Lang Son are two ethnic groups residing along Vietnam’s northeastern border. In their daily spiritual life, these groups still practice worshiping rituals called “Then”. Analyses of the language in Then practices reveal that it is used by the Then media (the local kind of shaman) as a means to make the practices both ‘holy’ and community-bonding. This has emerged as evident through our field observations of the Then media’s performance in Lang Son province who are conscious of their intentional use of language for their own purposes during such rituals. This understanding assist to preserve and develop this form of belief among the Tay-Nung people who are related to the Zhuang community on the Chinese side of the border.

This study seeks to elicit patterns and discourses of ritual of the Tay and Nung ethnicities, and to increase knowledge of the ways in which these communities, as conveyors of the ‘Then’ spiritual vernacular, mediate shamanism so to reflexively influence community and language.

The data set includes documented rituals and documented vernacular from these communities, and analysis has included genre and discourse analysis.