Bai, Central

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A language of China

Alternate Names
Labbu, Minchia, Minjia, Minkia, Nama, Pai
Population

800,000 (2003 census). Ethnic population: 800,000.

Location

Northwest Yunnan, Jianchuan, Heqing, Lanping, Eryuan, and Yunlong.

Language Maps
Language Status

6a (Vigorous).

Dialects

Eryuan, Heqing, Jianchuan, Lanping, Yunlong.

Typology

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

Language Use

Vigorous. All domains. All ages. Positive attitudes. Some also speak Chinese [cmn]. A few also speak Lisu [lis], Anong [nun], or Naxi [nxq].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 0%. Literacy rate in L2: 70%. 1 experimental program. Poetry. Radio programs. Dictionary.
Writing
Han (Hanzi, Kanji, Hanja) script, dating from 9th century, limited use in folk songs and ritual texts, favoured by older people. Latin script, Pinyin-based, used since 1982, experimental, small-scale use in education, administration, and literature.
Other Comments

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