A language of China


20,000 (Bradley 2007). Very few monolinguals. Ethnic population: 28,000 (Bradley 2007).


Yunnan Province, Guandu district, Kunming city, Ala and surrounding communities, 47 villages; west Yiliang County, 7 villages.

Language Status

8a (Moribund). Language of recognized nationality: Yi.

Language Use

Extinct in some villages close to Kunming, severely endangered to the east in northeast Guandu and Yiliang, endangered in Ala Township, which is the center of the Samei distribution and where most villages are entirely or largely Samei (Bradley 2007). Few fluent young speakers, though many children have a passive understanding (Bradley 2007). Nearly all also use Chinese [cmn].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L2: High in Chinese.

Yi script [Yiii], traditional, no longer in use.

Other Comments

Traditional religion.