A farmer in central China's Hunan province has been busy, for almost 13 years, compiling a dictionary that he hopes will save his ethnic language.
"A vast majority of young people here can no longer speak our unique language. I fear it might die out in a couple of decades," said Ran Maowen, a 59-year-old farmer.
"We need to do something to save our language."
Ran, who is a member of the Tujia ethnic minority, started the project after he left his teaching post at a primary school in Longshan county in western Hunan in 1993.
Tujia, one of 55 Chinese ethnic minorities, has a population of 5.7 million who mainly live in west Hunan and east Sichuan province in southwest China.
In order to record the language, he talked with several elders as he travelled to village bazaars and attended weddings and funerals in western Hunan.
"More than 100,000 entries will be included in the dictionary, and every entry will be provided with its pronunciation, definition and Chinese translation," he said.
The dictionary will be published in the early part of May 2007, added Ran.