First ever Jrai-Vietnamese dictionary completed

The first electronic dictionary featuring the Jrai ethnic language was recently completed after a two-year project, according to the Information and Communications Department of the central highland province of Gia Lai.

The dictionary covers nearly 10,000 Jrai words including their meanings in the Vietnamese language, and pronunciation and spelling in both Jrai and Vietnamese. Each word was recorded as an mp3 file.

According to local culture officials, the dictionary not only facilitated understanding of the Jrai language but also helped to preserve the cultural area surrounding gongs in the Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands), which has been recognised by UNESCO as a world intangible cultural heritage.

The dictionary also includes 28 video clips of traditional customs and cultural features of the Jrai ethnic group such as the roles of water-storage jars and staircases leading up to houses-on-stilts in the local communities, the art of mending gongs, the buffalo killing festival, decorative patterns on Jrai fabrics and sculptures adorning tombs.

People of the Jrai group reside mainly in Gia Lai Province (90 per cent), Kon Tum (5 per cent) and Dac Lac (4 per cent) with the country's total population hovering around 412,000, according to 2009 statistics.

Jrai people are also called Gio Rai, Cho Rai, To Buan, Hobau, Hdrung, Chor and Gia Lai in the Vietnamese language.

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