A language of China

Alternate Names
Dai, Dai Le, Lu, Lue, Ly, Pai’i’, Pai-I, Shui-Pai-I, Sipsongpanna Dai, Tai Lu, Xishuangbanna Dai
ᦅᧄᦺᦑᦟᦹᧉ‎ (Kam Tai Lue)

280,000 in China (2000 census). 140,000 monolinguals. Total users in all countries: 554,600.


Yunnan province: Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous prefecture, 3 counties: Jinghong (Chiang Hung, Chien Rung), Menghai, and Mengla; some in Simao municipal prefecture, Jiangcheng Hani and Yi Autonomous counties.

Language Status

2 (Provincial). Language of recognized nationality: Dai. Some speakers of other languages use Lü as L2 for trade.


Jinghong. Muang Yong and dialects in northern Thailand may converge phonologically with Northern Thai [nod] (Diller and Juntanamalaga 1990). Low intelligibility with Shan [shn] and Tai Nüa [tdd]. Different from Tai Nüa [tdd], each having their own literary tradition. Lexical similarity: 95% with Northern Thai [nod], 86% with Central Thai [tha], 92%–93% with Shan [shn], 92%–95% with Khün [kkh].


SVO; modifiers follow noun heads.

Language Use

Vigorous. All domains. Used by all. Positive attitudes. Also use Jingpho [kac]. Also use Mandarin Chinese [cmn]. Some schools teach in it exclusively. Used as L2 by Akeu [aeu], Blang [blr], Buyuan Jinuo [jiy], Hani [hni], Lahu [lhu], Laomian [lwm], Lisu [lis], Ruching Palaung [pce], Samtao [stu], Sangkong [sgk], Vo Wa [wbm], Youle Jinuo [jiu].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L1: 84% literate in any language (2000 census, Dai nationality). Given that Tai Lü has a traditional script and tradition of literacy, the literacy figure probably includes significant percentages literate in Lü Scripts, as well as percentages educated in Chinese, as well as some literate in both languages. Taught in primary and secondary schools. Literature. Newspapers. Periodicals. Radio. TV. Dictionary. Grammar. NT: 1933.


New Tai Lue script [Talu], used in Yunnan Province, China. Tai Tham (Lanna) script [Lana], still used by some, particularly in Buddhist monasteries in Yunnan Province, China.

Other Comments

Traditional Lü script is used in monastaries and reformed version used in some government functions. Traditional religion, Buddhist.

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