A language of China

Alternate Names
Aci, Aji, Atshi, Atsi, Atsi-Maru, Atzi, Azi, Szi, Tsaiva, Tsaiwa, Xiaoshanhua

80,000 in China (1999 X. Xijian). 20,000 monolinguals. Total users in all countries: 110,000.


Yunnan province: Dehong Dai-Jingpo autonomous prefecture, Bangwa, Longchuan, Luxi, Ruili, and Yingjiang counties.

Language Status

5 (Developing). Language of recognized nationality: Jingpo.


Longzhun, Tingzhu, Bengwa. Some consider Pela [bxd] (Bola, Polo, Pala), Lashi [lsi] (Leqi), and Maru [mhx] (Langsu, Langwa) to be dialects of Zaiwa. Dialects have only minor phonological differences.


SOV; 3 tone categories in unchecked syllables and 2 in checked; tense-lax vowel contrast.

Language Use

Vigorous. Speakers of other languages in the area also speak Zaiwa. All domains. Used by all. Used less by young people and children. Positive attitudes. Intellectuals are concerned about preservation of Zaiwa. Some also use Mandarin Chinese [cmn]. Also use Central Bai [bca], Jingpho [kac], Lachi [lbt], Lhao Vo [mhx], Lisu [lis]. Used as L2 by Jingpho [kac], Lhaovo [mhx].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L1: 50,000 can read and write. Taught in primary schools. Newspapers. Radio. TV. Dictionary. Grammar. NT: 2009.


Latin script [Latn], developed in 1957, modified in 1997. Lisu (Fraser) script [Lisu], no longer in use.

Other Comments

Traditional religion, Christian, Daoist.

Also spoken in:

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