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A team of researchers conducted research among the Bahnaric language cluster for six weeks, from February to April 2006, in the provinces of Mondul Kiri and Kratie in the Kingdom of Cambodia. The research presented here is the first of a series of ongoing evaluations of the linguistic and sociolinguistic relationships within and between Bahnaric language varieties in Cambodia. Researchers visited 30 villages, administering sociolinguistic questionnaires to village and commune chiefs and collecting wordlists for comparison of lexical similarity.
The main purpose of this survey was to get a broad overview of the current sociolinguistic situation in Mondul Kiri and Kratie. To this end, we sought to identify the various vernacular languages, ethnic groups and languages of wider communication, and to determine sociolinguistic relationships. A secondary purpose was to gather preliminary information to assist in determining which Bahnaric varieties could be considered for development. The issues of bilingual proficiency and language vitality repeatedly arose in our interviews; they are vital factors to consider before making future decisions about language development needs. This survey was successful in its purposes of providing a broad overview of the linguistic area, obtaining preliminary information, and pinpointing exact issues, ethnic groups, and geographical areas for further research.