A language of China

Alternate Names
Bli, Dai, Day, Dli, Klai, La, Lai, Le, Li, Loi, Slai

667,000 (1999 O. Jueya). 160,000 monolinguals. Ethnic population: 1,248,000 (2000 census) including approximately 52,300 Jiamao [jio] speakers.


Central and southern Hainan Province, Wanning, Tunchang, Danxiang, Chengmai, Baisha.

Language Maps
Language Status

6a (Vigorous).


Bendi (Baisha-Yuanmen, Local Li, Zwn), Ha (Luohua-Hayan-Baoxian), Meifu (Moifau), Qi (Gei, Tongshi-Qiandui-Baocheng). Some dialects may be separate languages. Matisoff (1988) lists 8 varieties: Baoding, Xifang, Tongshi, Baisha, Qiandiu, Heitu, Yuanmen, and Baocheng. Luowo subdialect of Ha dialect is considered the standard. Lexical similarity: 27% with Gelao, 26% with Dong [doc] and Qabiao [laq], 25% with Lachi [lbt].

Language Use

Vigorous. Some local Han can also speak Hlai. All domains. All ages. Positive attitudes. Also use Mandarin Chinese [cmn], Iu Mien [ium].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L2: 88% (2000 census, Li nationality). Dictionary.
Latin script.
Other Comments

Officially classified within Li nationality, together with speakers of Jiamao [jio]. Traditional culture. Traditional religion.