A language of China

Alternate Names
Ai Sui, Shui, Sui Li, Suipo

300,000 in China (Bradley 2007). Population total all countries: 300,120. Ethnic population: 407,000 (2000 census).


Guizhou Province, centered in Sandu; Duyun, Dushan, Libo, Rongjiang, Danzhai, Leishan, and Congjiang counties; Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Nandan, and Rongshui counties; Yunnan Province, Fuyuan county.

Language Status

6a (Vigorous). Language of recognized nationality: Shui.


Pandong, Sandong (Central Sui, Southern Sui), Yang’an. Some communication difficulty between dialects. Sandong (Central) is the standard and most intelligible in the area (Castro 2011).


SVO; noun head initial; 70 onsets, 50 rhymes; 8 tones (Wei and Edmondson 2008).

Language Use

Vigorous. All domains. All ages. Positive attitudes. 100,000 also use Chinese [zho]. Bilingualism is low in the main areas. Written Chinese is in use. Used as L2 by Bouyei [pcc].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 0%. Literacy rate in L2: 78% in any language for Shui nationality (2000 census). Not formally taught. Poetry. Dictionary.

Han (Hanzi, Kanji, Hanja) script [Hani], used by folk singers aged 40–60.

Other Comments

Traditional religion.

Also spoken in:

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