Bai, Southern


A language of China


400,000 (2003).


Northwest Yunnan, Dali Bai autonomous prefecture, Xiangyun.

Language Maps
Language Status

6a (Vigorous).


Dali, Xiangyun.


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

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 1993, experimental, small-scale use in education, administration, and literature.
Other Comments

Officially classified within Bai nationality. Classification difficult due to heavy borrowing (60% to– 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.