|Native to||People's Republic of China|
|Native speakers||750,000 (1999)|
lic – Hlai
cuq – Cun
Hlai (Chinese: 黎语) is one of two languages of the Hlai or Li people, the other being Jiamao. It is spoken by 600,000 people (not counting Jiamao), a quarter of them monolingual, in the mountains of central and south-central Hainan Island. It forms one of the primary branches of the family of Tai–Kadai languages.
Hlai did not have a writing system until the 1950s, when the Latin script was adopted.
Hlai has several dialects, some perhaps divergent enough to be considered separate languages. According to Ethnologue, the main divisions are Ha 哈 (the prestige dialect), Qi aka Gei 杞, Meifu aka Moifau 美孚, and Bendi aka Zwn, in addition to Jiamao aka Kamau 加茂, which is not mutually intelligible with the others. Norquest (2007) gives a different classification.
- Entry for Hlai at Rosetta Project
- Hlai-language Swadesh vocabulary list of basic words (from Wiktionary's Swadesh-list appendix)
- ABVD: Proto-Hlai word list
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