Bisu

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A language of Thailand

Alternate Names
Lawa, Lua, Mbisu, Mibisu
Population

700 (2016 K. Person). No monolinguals (2015 K. Person). Ethnic population: 700 (Bradley 2007b).

Location

Chiang Rai province: Doi Chomphu and Pui Kham villages.

Language Maps
Language Status

6b (Threatened).

Dialects

None known. Similar to Laomian [lwm] and Pyen [pyy]. Lexical similarity: 36% with Hani [hni], 32% with Lahu [lhu], 31% with Lisu [lis].

Typology

SOV; simple syllable structure; certain obstruent onsets may be prenasalized, aspirated, or palatalized, but otherwise no consonant clusters; syllables may be closed by stop or nasal; 3 tones, tone sandhi; words have 1 or 2 syllables; modifiers follow heads; loanwords from Dai and Chinese.

Language Use

Some young people, all adults (Bradley 2007a). Also use Northern Thai [nod], especially younger generations.

Language Development
Literacy rate in L2: Below 5%. Literacy classes held at weekend in Doi Chompu. Oral and written materials developed. NT: 2015.
Writing

Latin script [Latn], used since 2002, used in Myanmar. Thai script [Thai], used since 1998, used in Thailand.

Other Comments

The terms ‘Lawa’ and ‘Lua’ generally refer to Waic language varieties in Thailand: sometimes outsiders have classified unrelated languages such as Bisu in this category. Traditional religion, Christian.

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