A language of China

Alternate Names

70,000 (2002), increasing. Less than 10,000 monolinguals. Ethnic population: 131,000 (2010 census).


Gansu province: Jishishan autonomous county; Qinghai province: Hualong Hui and Xunhua Salar autonomous counties; Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Yili, Kazakh autonomous prefecture.

Language Maps
Language Status

6b (Threatened). Language of recognized nationality: Salar.


Eastern Salar (Gaizi, Gandu, Jishishan, Mengda), Western Salar (Ili). Salar is spoken by descendants of Oghuz Turks from the Samarkand region. Has an Oghuz (SW) Turkic base, and took on Eastern and S.Siberian Turkic features through Central Asian contacts, and finally acquired a stratum of features from Chinese and Tibetan (Dwyer 1998). Gaizi (Jiezi) often seen as standard variety.


SOV; postpositional; verbs take up to 3 or 4 suffixes, no prefixes; no person or gender marking; 27 consonant and 8 vowel phonemes; nontonal.

Language Use

Schooling in Mandarin Chinese [cmn] in Qinghai, and Uyghur [uig] in Xinjiang. Domestic, informal domains. Some young people, all adults. Negative attitudes. Many also use Amdo Tibetan [adx], especially men. Many also use Mandarin Chinese [cmn], especially men using northwestern variety and mainly in Qinghai. Also use Central Tibetan [bod]. Also use Uyghur [uig], mostly in Xinjiang.

Language Development

Literacy rate in L2: 60%. Dictionary. Texts.


Unwritten [Qaax].

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