Zolai or Zopau is used in daily life among Zo communities, although it is not officially taught at government schools. Almost all local speakers are bilingual: they use Zo at home and at local Christian churches, and learn Burmese at schools. Zo language is less documented because of the lack of a standard orthography in the whole linguistic area and also due to the increasing influence of Burmese language nationwide. Related research in recent years is mainly focused on the whole Kuki-Chin branch level, and Zo language as a specific case is less studied by now.
During the fieldwork, I spent most time in Kalay township in Sagaing Region next to Chin State, working with language consultants residing there and analyzing the collected data. About one week in total was spent on trips to other Zo-speaking areas. In the field trips, I collected very useful data in Kalay township and Chanthagyi village in Sagaing Region, and also Tedim township and Cikha village in Chin Hills, representing a large portion of the Zomi settlement in west Myanmar. The interviews, elicitations and transcriptions were mainly done with the help of students and staff members of Zomi Theological Seminary in Kalay and supported by Zomi Baptist Convention of Myanmar (ZBCM).
For my master thesis, I focus on the grammatical relations of Zo with an overview of its grammar. Zo is a tonal language with two mutually exclusive preverbal and post-verbal agreement systems, different from other Kuki-Chin languages which usually have one. For example, the two sentences below both mean ‘I ate the food’ in Zo.
This fieldwork was quite successful overall and I really enjoyed the time at the field sites. The Zo people were very nice and supported me a lot for my study. I got chances working with speakers of different ages from various places, which was very helpful for me to collect useful data.