A language of China

Alternate Names

70,000 (2002), increasing. 10,000 monolinguals. Ethnic population: 105,000 (2000 census). L2 users: Some, especially men of other area languages, use Salar.


Qinghai Province, Xunhua Salar and Hualong Hui autonomous counties; Gansu Province, Jishishan autonomous county; Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Yilli. Kazakh autonomous prefecture.

Language Maps
Language Status

6b (Threatened). Language of recognized nationality: Salar.


Ili, Jiezi, Mengda. Salar is spoken by descendants of an Oghuz-Turkic-speaking subtribe. Has an Oghuz Turkic base, and took on a medieval Chaghatay Turkic stratum through Central Asian contacts and finally acquired a stratum of features from local languages (1989 R. Hahn). Jiezi often seen as standard dialect.


SOV; postpositional; verbs take up to 3 or 4 suffixes, no prefixes; no person or gender marking; 27 consonant and 8 vowel phonemes; nontonal.

Language Use

Some speakers of other languages in the area use Salar, especially men. Domestic, informal domains. All ages, but children less. Positive attitudes. Also use Central Tibetan [bod], Mandarin Chinese [cmn], Uyghur [uig].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 0%. Literacy rate in L2: 60%. Dictionary. Grammar.

Unwritten [Qaax].

Other Comments

Muslim (Sufi), Muslim (Ikhwan), Muslim (Sunni).