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Nuosu

A language of China

ISO 639-3iii

Population  2,000,000 (2000 census), increasing. 60% monolinguals (Jiafa 1994).
Region  North Yunnan, south Sichuan, mainly in Greater and Lesser Liangshan mountains. Spoken in over 40 counties.
Language map  Southwestern China
Alternate names   Black Yi, Liangshan Yi, Northern Yi, Nosu Yi, Sichuan Yi
Dialects  Northern Shypnra, Southern Shypnra, Yynuo, Suondi (Adu).
Classification  Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Burmic, Ngwi, Northern
Language use  Where Han culture and urban life impinge on Nuosu people, many Chinese loan words are appearing. Written Nuosu is used in rituals by shamans in every community. Some educated Nuosu use standardized syllabary in academic contexts. The culture is orally oriented so most would not think of writing a letter or a set of procedures in Nuosu, nor would they think of reading written instructions. The educated prefer to write in Chinese for these tasks. All domains. All ages. Positive attitude. Also use Chinese [cmn].
Language development  Literacy rate in L1: Moderate in central Liangshan. Low elsewhere. Literacy rate in L2: Moderate. Nearly all literate Nuosu are literate in Chinese; some are also literate in Nuosu. Taught in primary and secondary schools. Poetry. Magazines. Newspapers. Dictionary. NT: 2005.
Writing system  Latin script. Yi script.
Comments  Classified as Yi nationality. When applied to the Nuosu, terms ‘Black Yi’ (Hei Yi) and ‘White Yi’ (Bai Yi) refer to caste distinctions rather than to ethnic or linguistic distinctions. However, the same terms often do refer to ethnic and linguistic distinctions when applied to Yi groups in Yunnan. Also, some outsiders refer to Nuosu as ‘Black Yi’. Chinese linguists recognize 3 primary dialects: Shengzha (Standard), Northern (Lindimu-Yinuo), Southern (Adur-Suondi)-cf. Map (Bradley 2007). Some dialects, such as Lindimu, are likely distinct languages. Swidden agriculturalists and animal husbandry. Polytheist, Christian.