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Hlai languages

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Title: Hlai languages  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Tai–Kadai languages, Kra languages, Languages of China, Ong Be language, Gelao language
Collection: Languages of China, Li People, Tai–kadai Languages
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Hlai languages

Native to People's Republic of China
Region Hainan
Ethnicity Li people
Native speakers
750,000  (1999)[1]
  • Southern
    • Hlai
Early forms
Proto-Hlai (reconstructed)
  • Hlai
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Either:
lic – Hlai
cuq – Cun
Glottolog nucl1241[2]

The Hlai languages (Chinese: 黎语) are a primary branch of the Tai–Kadai language family spoken in the mountains of central and south-central Hainan Island in China. They include Cun, whose speakers are ethnically distinct.[3] A quarter of Hlai speakers are monolingual. None of the Hlai languages had a writing system until the 1950s, when the Latin script was adopted for Ha.


  • Classification 1
  • Reconstruction 2
  • See also 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Norquest (2007) classifies the Hlai languages as follows.[4] Individual languages are highlighted in bold. There are some 750,000 Hlai speakers.

  • Proto-Hlai
    • Bouhin (Heitu 黑土) – 73,000
    • Greater Hlai
      • Ha Em 哈 (Zhongsha 中沙) – 193,000, the basis of the literary language
      • Central Hlai
        • East Central Hlai – 344,000
          • Lauhut (Baoding 保定) – 166,000
          • Qi 杞 aka Gei – 178,000
            • Tongzha (Tongshi 通什) – 125,000
            • Zandui (Qiandui 堑对) – 29,000
            • Baoting 保亭 – 24,000
        • North Central Hlai – 136,500
          • Northwest Central Hlai – 62,500
            • Cun (Ngan Fon, Gelong 仡隆) – 60,000
            • Nadou (Dongfang 东方) – 2,500
          • Northeast Central Hlai – 74,000
            • Meifu 美孚 (Moifau) – 30,000
            • Run (Zwn) aka Bendi – 44,000
              • Baisha 白沙 – 36,000
              • Yuanmen 元门 – 8,000

The Fuma 府玛 dialect is spoken in 1 village north of Changcheng 昌城, Hainan. It had by 800 speakers in 1994.[5]

Jiamao 加茂 (52,000), although ethnically Hlai, is not a Hlai language. It is currently unclassified.


See also


  1. ^ Hlai at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
    [1]Cun] at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Hlai". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Ethnologue mistakenly lists Cun among the Kra languages.
  4. ^ Norquest, Peter K. 2007. A Phonological Reconstruction of Proto-Hlai. Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Arizona.
  5. ^


  • Weera Ostapirat (2005). Review of Ouyang Jueya, The Cun Language (1998). In Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 28 (1) 99ff.[2]

External links

  • Bible recordings in various Hlai languages
  • ABVD: Proto-Hlai word list
  • Hlai-language Swadesh vocabulary list of basic words (from Wiktionary's Swadesh-list appendix)

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