A language of China

Alternate Names
Dai, Dai Le, Lu, Lue, Ly, Pai’i’, Pai-I, Shui-Pai-I, Sipsongpanna Dai, Tai Lu, Xishuangbanna Dai

280,000 in China (2000 census). Population total all countries: 550,960. 140,000 monolinguals.


Southern Yunnan Province, Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous prefecture, 3 counties: Jinghong (Chiang Hung, Chien Rung), Menghai, and Mengla; also a few in Simao municipal prefecture, Jiangcheng Hani and Yi Autonomous counties.

Language Status

2 (Provincial). Statutory provincial working language in South Yunnan and other places (1984, Ethnic Regional Autonomy Act, Articles 10 and 21). Language of recognized nationality: Dai.Some speakers of other languages use Lü as L2 for trade.


Jinghong. Muang Yong and dialects in northern Thailand may converge phonologically with Northern Thai [nod] (Diller and Juntanamalaga 1990). Low intelligibility with Shan [shn] and Tai Nüa [tdd]. Different from Tai Nüa [tdd], each having their own literary tradition. Lexical similarity: 95% with Northern Thai [nod], 86% with Central Thai [tha], 92%–93% with Shan [shn], 92%–95% with Khün [kkh].


SVO; modifiers follow noun heads.

Language Use

Vigorous. All domains. All ages. Positive attitudes. Also use Chinese [cmn]. Some schools only teach in Chinese. Also use Jingpho [kac]. Used as L2 by Blang [blr], Buyuan Jinuo [jiy], Hani [hni], Lahu [lhu], Laomian [lwm], Lisu [lis], Ruching Palaung [pce], Samtao [stu], Sangkong [sgk], Vo Wa [wbm], Youle Jinuo [jiu].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 84% literate in any language (2000 census, Dai nationality). Given that Tai Lü has a traditional script and tradition of literacy, the literacy figure probably includes significant percentages literate in Lü Scripts, as well as percentages educated in Chinese, as well as some literate in both languages. Taught in primary and secondary schools. Magazines. Newspapers. Radio programs. TV. Dictionary. Grammar. NT: 1933.

New Tai Lue script [Talu], used in Yunnan Province, China. Tai Tham (Lanna) script [Lana], still used by some, particularly in Buddhist monasteries in Yunnan Province, China.

Other Comments

Traditional Lü script is used in monastaries and reformed version used in some government functions. Traditional religion, Buddhist.

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