The Loloish languages, also known as Yi in China and occasionally Ngwi (Bradley 1997) or Nisoic (Lama 2012), are a family of fifty to a hundred Sino-Tibetan languages spoken primarily in the Yunnan province of China. They are most closely related to Burmese and its relatives. Both the Loloish and Burmish branches are well defined, as is their superior node, Lolo–Burmese. However, subclassification is more contentious.
SIL Ethnologue (2013 edition) estimated a total number of 9 million native speakers of Ngwi languages, the largest group being the speakers of Nuosu (Northern Yi) at 2 million speakers (2000 PRC census).
|Yi, Ngwi, Nisoic|
|Southern China and Southeast Asia|
Loloish is the traditional name for the family. Some publications avoid the term under the misapprehension that Lolo is pejorative. Lolo is the Chinese rendition of the autonym of the Yi people, and it is only pejorative when written with a particular Chinese character (one that uses a beast rather than human radical), a practice that was prohibited by the Chinese government in the 1950s.
David Bradley uses the name Ngwi, which is also used by Ethnologue, and Lama (2012) uses Nisoic. Paul K. Benedict coined the term Yipho, from Yi and a common autonym element (-po or -pho), but it never gained wide usage.
Loloish was traditionally divided into a northern branch, with Lisu and the numerous Yi languages, and a southern branch, with everything else. However, per Bradley (1997) and Thurgood (2003:8) there is also a central branch, with languages from both northern and southern. Bradley (2002, 2007) adds a fourth, southeastern branch.
Ugong is divergent; Bradley (1997) places it with the Burmish languages. The Tujia language is difficult to classify due to divergent vocabulary. Other unclassified Loloish languages are Gokhy (Gɔkhý), Lopi, and Ache.
Lama (2012) classified 36 Lolo–Burmese languages based on a computational analysis of shared phonological and lexical innovations. He finds the Mondzish languages to be a separate branch of Lolo-Burmese, which Lama considers to have split off before Burmish did. The rest of the Loloish languages are as follows:
The Nisoish, Lisoish, and Kazhuoish clusters are closely related, forming a clade ("Ni-Li-Ka") at about the same level as the other five branches of Loloish. Lama's Naxish clade has been classified as Qiangic rather than Loloish by Guillaume Jacques & Alexis Michaud (2011) (see Qiangic languages).
Satterthwaite-Phillips' (2011) computational phylogenetic analysis of the Lolo-Burmese languages does support the inclusion of Naxish (Naic) within Lolo-Burmese, but recognizes Lahoish and Nusoish as coherent language groups that form independent branches of Loloish.
Azha is one of the Loloish languages spoken by the Yi people of China.Azhe language
Azhe (Chinese 阿哲 Azhe; Azhepo; autonym: a˨˩dʐɛ˨pʰo˨˩) is one of the Loloish languages spoken by the Yi people of China.Central Loloish languages
The Central Loloish languages, also known as Central Ngwi, is a branch of Loloish languages in Bradley (1997). It is not used in Lama's (2012) classification. Central Loloish is also not supported in Satterthwaite-Phillips' (2011) computational phylogenetic analysis of the Lolo-Burmese languages.Eka language
Eka (autonym: o21 kha24; exonym: Menghua) is a Loloish language of Yunnan, China. There are 3,000 speakers in Yijiacun, Heliu, Shuangjiang County, Lincang Prefecture. Eka speakers claim to have migrated from Weishan County about 300 years ago.Kazhuoish languages
The Kazhuoish languages are a branch of Loloish languages proposed by Lama (2012). There are five languages.
MeumaSamei may or may not be a Kazhuoish language.
However, Bradley (2007) classifies the Kazhuoish languages as Northern Loloish, and considers Samu and Sanie to be closely related to Nasu.Khlula language
Khlula is a Loloish language. It is spoken by the Phula people of China.Mangdi language
Mangdi (autonym: lo˨˩lo˧ pɑ̱˨˩) is a Loloish language of Yunnan, China. There are 3,000 speakers in Mangdi, Hepai, Gengma County, Lincang Prefecture, as well as in Cangyuan County.Moji language
Moji, or Muji, also known as Pingtou (Flathead) Phula, is a Loloish language spoken by the Phula people of China. It is one of several such languages to go by the name Muji.Muzi language
Muzi, or Muji, is a Loloish language spoken by the Phula people of China. It is one of several such languages to go by the name Muji.Northern Loloish languages
The Northern Loloish languages, also known as Northern Ngwi, are a branch of the Loloish languages that includes the literary standard of the Yi people. In Lama's (2012) classification, it is called Nisoid (Nisu–Lope), which forms the Nisoish branch together with the Axi-Puoid (Southeastern Loloish) languages.Phukha language
Phukha is one of the Loloish languages spoken by the Phula people of Vietnam and China.Phupha language
Phupha, or Downriver Phula, is a dialect cluster of Loloish languages spoken by the Phula people of China. There are four principal varieties, which may be considered distinct languages:
Phupha, Alugu (Alugu Phupha)
Phupa, Phuza.Usage is decreasing apart from Alugu, which is taught in primary schools.
The representative Phuza dialect studied in Pelkey (2011) is that of Bujibai 补鸡白, Lengquan Township 冷泉镇, Mengzi County.Samei language
Samei (autonym: sa˨˩ni˥˧) is a Loloish language of Yunnan, China closely related to Sani (Bradley 2005). It is spoken in 47 villages in and around Ala Township 阿拉彝族乡, just southeast of downtown Kunming, as well as in 7 villages in western Yiliang County (Ethnologue). There are about 20,000 speakers out of an estimated 28,000 ethnic population. Samei lexical data is also documented in Satterthwaite-Phillips (2011).Sani language
Sani (Chinese: 撒尼 Sani) is one of the Loloish languages spoken by the Yi people of China. It is one of six Yi languages recognized by the Chinese government, under the name Southeastern Yi. Sani is spoken in Shilin, Luliang, Luxi, Shizong, Yiliang, Malong, Luquan, and Mile counties by about 120,000 speakers.The Sani [sa˨˩ni˨˩] call themselves [ni˨˩]. Their language is distinct from the closely related Samei, whose speakers call themselves Sani [sa˨˩ni˥˧].Another group known as the Sa 撒 (autonym: Sani 撒尼) live in Qiubei County (Yunnan 1960). Yunnan (1960) considers it to be similar to Sani of Shilin County. Population: 1443.Southern Loloish languages
The Southern Loloish or Southern Ngwi languages, also known as the Hanoish (Hanish) languages, constitute a branch of the Loloish languages that includes Akha and Hani.Thopho language
Thopho, or Black Phula, is an endangered Loloish language spoken by the Phula people of Yunnan, China. There are 200 speakers out of an ethnic population of 500 speakers. It is spoken in the following two villages in eastern Guangnan County, Yunnan.
Bacai 坝彩, Zhongzhai Village 中寨村, Zhulin Township 珠琳镇
Xinzhai 新寨, Zhema Village 者妈村, Zhetu Township 者兔乡 (living alongside Zhuang speakers)Xuzhang language
Xuzhang (autonym: la˨˩lu˧) is a Loloish language of Yunnan, China. There are 2,000 speakers in Xuzhang, Wafang, Longyang District, Baoshan Prefecture.Yangliu language
Yangliu (autonym: la˨˩lu˥ pa˥) is a Loloish language of Yunnan, China. There are 7,000 speakers in Yangliu, Longyang District, Baoshan Prefecture.Zauzou language
Zauzou (Rouruo 柔若, Jaojo, Raorou; autoynm: zau˥zou˧) is a Loloish language of Tu'e District 兔峨地区, Lanping County, Yunnan, China. It is most closely related to Nusu.