A language of China

Alternate Names
Sibe, Sibin, Sibo, Xibo

30,000 (2000 A. Jun). Few monolinguals. Ethnic population: 189,000 (2000 census). L2 users: Chinese, Uyghur, or Kazakh speakers in the area can also speak Xibe.


Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Qapqal, Huocheng, Gongliu, Xinyuan, Nilka, Tekes, and Zhaosu counties; Ili prefecture, Yining city; Tacheng prefecture, Tacheng county; Bortala prefecture, Bole county, Ürümqi city.

Language Maps
Language Status

6b (Threatened). Statutory language of provincial identity in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (1984, Ethnic Regional Autonomy Act, Articles 10 and 21). Language of recognized nationality: Xibe.


None known. Inherently intelligible of Manchu [mnc].


SOV; genitives, articles, adjectives, numerals precede noun heads; question word initial; complex vowel harmony.

Language Use

Vigorous. All domains. All ages in rural areas. Positive attitudes. Also use English [eng], Kazakh [kaz], Mandarin Chinese [cmn], Russian [rus], Uyghur [uig].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 50%. Literacy rate in L2: 52%. Taught in primary schools. Newspapers. Radio programs. Dictionary. Grammar.

Cyrillic script [Cyrl], 1957–1958, experimental, limited use in education. Latin script [Latn], used in 1939–1941 and since internet became popular, mainly used on internet and text messaging, favoured by younger people. Mongolian script [Mong], Sibe style, used in 1947–1966 and from 1974, official, primary usage, all domains, favoured by older generations. Mongolian script [Mong], Manchu style, used from Qing dynasty to 1947.

Other Comments

Descendants of an 18th century Qing dynasty military garrison. Loans from Uyghur, Kazakh, and Chinese. Traditional religion.