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: 1,460,000 (2010 census). Includes Jiamao [jio] speakers.


Hainan province: Baisha, Chengmai, Danxiang, Tunchang, and Wanning.

Language Maps
Language Status

6a (Vigorous). Language of recognized nationality: Li.


Ha (Luohua-Hayan-Baoxian), Qi (Gei, Tongshi-Qiandui-Baocheng), Meifu (Moifau), Bendi (Baisha-Yuanmen, Local Li, Zwn). 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. Used by all. Positive attitudes. Also use Iu Mien [ium], Mandarin Chinese [cmn]. Used as L2 by Cun [cuq], Tsat [huq].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L2: 88% (2000 census, Li nationality). Dictionary.


Latin script [Latn], pinyin-based, used from 1958 to early 1960s and from 1985, small-scale use in literacy.

Other Comments

Together with speakers of Jiamao [jio]. Traditional culture. Traditional religion.

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