Bai, Southern


A language of China


400,000 (2003).


Northwest Yunnan Province, Dali Bai autonomous prefecture, Xiangyun.

Language Maps
Language Status

6a (Vigorous). Language of recognized nationality: Bai.


Dali, Xiangyun.


SVO; attributives precede noun heads; number classifier constructions follow noun heads; tense-lax vowel distinction; tonal, 5 to 8 tones.

Language Use

All ages.


Han (Hanzi, Kanji, Hanja) script [Hani], dating from 9th century, limited use in folk songs and ritual texts, favoured by older people. Latin script [Latn], pinyin-based, used since 1993, experimental, small-scale use in education, administration, and literature.

Other Comments

Classification difficult due to heavy borrowing (60%–70%) from Chinese. Considered genetically related to Chinese, or a mixed language with Chinese, or related to Yi, or an independent branch of Tibeto-Burman. Traditional religion, Buddhist, Daoist.