The North Wind and the Sun (wiki) is a short story from Aesop's Fables. In linguistics, this story has been made famous through its use in phonetic demonstrations in the Handbook of the International Phonetic Association and the Journal of the International Phonetic Association.

The North Wind and the Sun

The full text in English reads as follows:

The North Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger, when a traveller came along wrapped in a warm cloak. They agreed that the one who first succeeded in making the traveller take his cloak off should be considered stronger than the other. Then the North Wind blew as hard as he could, but the more he blew the more closely did the traveller fold his cloak around him, and at last the North Wind gave up the attempt. Then the Sun shone out warmly, and immediately the traveller took off his cloak. And so the North Wind was obliged to confess that the Sun was the stronger of the two.

Here are parallel tellings of the story in languages spoken in the mountain ranges in the south-west of China:

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Lower Xumi
narrator:
Waxia Danyong

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Upper Xumi v1
narrator:
Lurong Duoding

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Upper Xumi v2
narrator:
Duoding

[transcription]

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Lizu
narrator:
Wang Xuecai

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Ersu
narrator:
Wang Dehe

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Duoxu
narrator:
Wu Rongfu

The Xumi language comes in two varieties: (1) Lower Xumi, the variety spoken in the lower reaches of the Shuiluo River; (2) Upper Xumi, the variety spoken in the upper reaches of the Shuiluo River. Lizu, Ersu, and Duoxu are closely related yet mutually unintelligible languages. The parallel texts on this page (sound files and transcriptions) provide a glimpse of the differences between these languages.