Northern Tai languages

This page was last edited on 12 February 2018, at 23:26.

The Northern Tai languages are an established branch of the Tai languages of Southeast Asia. They include the northern Zhuang languages and Bouyei of China, Tai Mène of Laos and Yoy of Thailand.

Northern Tai
Northern Zhuang
Southern China
Linguistic classification Tai–Kadai
  • Tai
    • Northern Tai
Glottolog nort3180[1]
Distribution of the Tai–Kadai language family.
  Northern Tai



Ethnologue[2] distinguishes the following languages.

  • Saek (Laos and northeast Thailand; listed outside Tai proper in the Ethnologue classification, though said to be similar to Tai Maen, which is listed as Northern Tai)
  • Tai Maen (Laos)
  • Yoy (Thailand) [?][3]
  • Bouyei (Buyi) (China) (including the language of the Giáy people of Vietnam)
  • Central Hongshuihe Zhuang
  • Eastern Hongshuihe Zhuang
  • Guibei Zhuang
  • Yei Zhuang
  • Lianshan Zhuang
  • Liujiang Zhuang
  • Liuqian Zhuang
  • Yongbei Zhuang
  • Youjiang Zhuang

(See varieties of Zhuang.)

Yoy is elsewhere classified as Southwestern Tai, and E, which is a mixed language Northern Tai-Chinese language.

Longsang Zhuang, a recently described Northern Tai language, is spoken Longsang Township, Debao County, Guangxi, China. Hezhang Buyi is a moribund Northern Tai language of northwestern Guizhou that is notable for having a Kra substratum.

Pittayaporn (2009)

Pittayaporn (2009:300) distinguishes a similar group of Zhuang varieties as group "N", defined by the phonological shifts *ɯj, *ɯw → *aj, *aw.[4] He moves the prestige dialect of Zhuang, the Wuming dialect, from the Northern Tai Yongbei Zhuang to Yongnan Zhuang - purportedly Central Tai - as it lacks these shifts. The various languages and localities Pittayaporn includes in group N, along with their Ethnologue equivalents, are:


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Northern Daic". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Pittayaporn classified Yoy as Southwestern Tai, but does not provide supporting analysis.
  4. ^ Pittayaporn, Pittayawat. 2009. The Phonology of Proto-Tai. Ph.D. dissertation. Department of Linguistics, Cornell University.

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