Bai, Central


A language of China

Alternate Names
Labbu, Minchia, Minjia, Minkia, Nama, Pai

800,000 (2003 census). Ethnic population: 800,000.


Northwest Yunnan, Jianchuan, Heqing, Lanping, Eryuan, and Yunlong.

Language Maps
Language Status

6a (Vigorous).


Eryuan, Heqing, Jianchuan, Lanping, Yunlong.


SVO; attributives precede noun heads; number classifier constructions follow noun heads; tense-lax vowel distinction; tonal, 5 to 8 tones

Language Use

Vigorous. All domains. All ages. Positive attitudes. Some also speak Chinese [cmn]. A few also speak Lisu [lis], Anong [nun], or Naxi [nxq].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 0%. Literacy rate in L2: 70%. 1 experimental program. Poetry. Radio programs. Dictionary.
Han (Hanzi, Kanji, Hanja) script, dating from 9th century, limited use in folk songs and ritual texts, favoured by older people. Latin script, Pinyin-based, used since 1982, experimental, small-scale use in education, administration, and literature.
Other Comments

Officially classified within Bai nationality. Classification difficult due to heavy borrowing (60%–70%) from Chinese. Considered genetically related to Chinese, or a mixed language with Chinese, or an independent branch of Tibeto-Burman. Traditional religion, Buddhist, Daoist.