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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.