|China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and the US|
|ISO 639-2 / 5:||hmn|
Hmongic languages are in red
The most common name used for the languages is Miao (苗), the Chinese name and the one used by Miao in China. However, Hmong is more familiar in the West, due to Hmong emigration. Many overseas Hmong prefer the name Hmong, and claim that Miao is pejorative. Despite the fact that the term "Miao" has negative connotations in the Guizhou dialect of Chinese, nowadays it is generally considered neutral by the Miao community in China.
Of the Hmongic languages spoken by ethnic Miao, there are a number of overlapping names. The three branches are as follows, as named by Purnell (in English and Chinese), Ma, and Ratliff, as well as the descriptive names based on the patterns and colors of traditional dress:
|Multitree||Native name||Purnell||(in Chinese)||Ma||Ratliff||Dress-color name|
||—*||Sichuan–Guizhou–Yunnan Miao||Chuanqiandian Miao (川黔滇苗)||Western Miao||West Hmongic||White, Blue/Green, Flowery, etc.|
||Xong||Western Hunan Miao||Xiangxi Miao (湘西苗)||Eastern Miao||North Hmongic||Red Miao/Meo|
||Hmu||Eastern Guizhou Miao||Qiandong Miao (黔东苗)||Central Miao||East Hmongic||Black Miao|
* No common name. Miao speakers use forms like Hmong (Mong), Hmang (Mang), Hmao, Hmyo. Yao speakers use names based on Nu.
The Hunan Province Gazetteer (1997) gives the following autonyms for various peoples classified by the Chinese government as Miao.
- Xiangxi Prefecture: Guoxiong 果雄, Gexiong 仡熊; Guochu 果楚 (ceremonial)
- Luxi County and Guzhang County: Suo 缩, Shuang 爽
- Jingzhou County: Mu 目, Naimu 乃目
- Chengbu County: Mao 髳
The Miao languages were traditionally written with various adaptations of Chinese characters. Around 1905, Samuel Pollard introduced a Romanized script, the Pollard script, for the A-Hmao language, and this came to be used for Hmong Daw as well.
In the 1950s, pinyin-based Latin alphabets were devised by the Chinese government for three other varieties of Miao: Xong, Hmu, and Chuangqiandian (Hmong), as well as a Latin alphabet for A-Hmao to replace the Pollard script (now known as "Old Miao"), though Pollard remains popular. This meant that each of the branches of Miao in the classification of the time had a separate written standard. Wu and Yang (2010) report that standards should be developed for each of the six other primary varieties of Chuangqiandian as well.
Hmongic is one of the primary branches of the Hmong–Mien language family, with the other being Mienic. Hmongic is a diverse group of perhaps twenty languages, based on mutual intelligibility, but several of these are dialectically quite diverse in phonology and vocabulary, and are not considered to be single languages by their speakers. There are probably over thirty languages taking this into account. Four classifications are outlined below, though the details of the West Hmongic branch are left for that article.
Mo Piu, first documented in 2009, was reported by Geneviève Caelen-Haumont (2011) to be a divergent Hmongic language. It is currently unclassified. Similarly, Ná-Meo is not addressed in the classifications below, but is believed by Nguyen (2007) to be closest to Hmu (Qiandong Miao).
- Hmongic (Miao)
- Pa-Hng – 32,000 speakers
- (Main branch)
- Jiongnai & Ho Ne (She) – 2,000 speakers
- (Core Hmongic)
- West Hmongic (Chuanqiandian)
- North Hmongic (AKA Xong (Qo Xiong)) – 900,000 speakers mostly in Hunan
- East Hmongic (AKA Hmu) – 2,100,000 speakers mostly in Guizhou
Ratliff (2010) notes that Pa-Hng, Jiongnai, and Qo Xiong (North Hmongic) are phonologically conservative, as they retain many Proto-Hmongic features that have been lost in most other daughter languages. For instance, both Pa-Hng and Qo Xiong have vowel quality distinctions (and also tone distinctions in Qo Xiong) depending on whether or not the Proto-Hmong-Mien rime was open or closed. Both also retain the second part of Proto-Hmong-Mien diphthongs, which is lost in most other Hmongic languages, since they tend to preserve only the first part of Proto-Hmong-Mien diphthongs. Ratliff notes that the position of Qo Xiong (North Hmongic) is still quite uncertain. Since Qo Xiong preserves many archaic features not found in most other Hmongic languages, any future attempts at classifying the Hmong-Mien languages must also address the position of Qo Xiong.
Yoshihisa Taguchi's (2012) computational phylogenetic study classifies the Hmongic languages as follows.
- Northern Hmong = West Hunan (Xong)
- Western Hmong (See)
- Central Hmong
- Eastern Guizhu (Hmu)
Matisoff also indicates Hmongic influence on Gelao in his outline.
Wang & Deng (2003)
Wang & Deng (2003) is one of the few Chinese sources which integrate the Bunu languages into Hmongic on purely linguistic grounds. They find the following pattern in the statistics of core Swadesh vocabulary:
- (main branch)
Matisoff 2001 proposed the following, with She left unclassified:
- Hmongic (Miao)
- Hmongic (Miao)
In a follow-up to that paper in the same publication, he tentatively removed Pa-Hng, Wunai, Jiongnai, and Yunuo, positing that they may be independent branches of Miao–Yao, with the possibility that Yao was the first of these to branch off, effectively meaning that Miao/Hmongic would consist of six branches: She (Ho-Nte), Pa-Hng, Wunai, Jiongnai, Yunuo, and everything else. In addition, the 'everything else' would include nine distinct but unclassified branches, which were not addressed by either Matisoff or Ratliff (see West Hmongic#Strecker).
- Lingling (Linghua) of northern Guangxi
- Waxiang of western Hunan
- Laba 喇叭: more than 200,000 in Qinglong, Shuicheng, Pu'an, and Panxian in Guizhou; possibly a mixed Chinese and Miao language. The people are also called Huguangren 湖广人, because they claim their ancestors had migrated from Huguang
- Baishi Miao 拜师苗 of Baishi District, Tianzhu County, eastern Guizhou, possibly a mixed Chinese and Miao (Hmu?) language
|Western Xiangxi Miao (Layiping)||ɑ˦||ɯ˧˥||pu˧˥||pʐei˧˥||pʐɑ˧˥||ʈɔ˥˧||tɕoŋ˦˨||ʑi˧||tɕo˧˩||ku˧|
|Eastern Xiangxi Miao (Xiaozhang)||a˧||u˥˧||pu˥˧||ɬei˥˧||pja˥˧||to˧||zaŋ˩˧||ʑi˧˥||gɯ˧˨||gu˧˥|
|Northern Qiandong Miao (Yanghao)||i˧||o˧||pi˧||l̥u˧||tsa˧||tʲu˦||ɕoŋ˩˧||ʑa˧˩||tɕə˥||tɕu˧˩|
|Southern Qiandong Miao (Yaogao)||tiŋ˨˦||v˩˧||pai˩˧||tl̥ɔ˩˧||tɕi˩˧||tju˦||tsam˨||ʑi˨˦||tɕu˧˩||tɕu˨˦|
|Pu No (Du'an)||i˦˥˦||aːɤ˦˥˦||pe˦˥˦||pla˦˥˦||pu˦˥˦||tɕu˦˨˧||saŋ˨˩˨||jo˦˨||tɕu˨||tɕu˦˨|
|Nao Klao (Nandan)||i˦˨||uɔ˦˨||pei˦˨||tlja˦˨||ptsiu˧||tɕau˧˨||sɒ˧˩||jou˥˦||tɕau˨˦||tɕau˥˦|
|Nu Mhou (Libo)||tɕy˧||yi˧||pa˧||tləu˧||pja˧||tjɤ˦||ɕoŋ˧˩||ja˧˨||tɕɤ˥||tɕɤ˧˨|
|Tung Nu (Qibainong)||i˥||au˧||pe˧||tɬa˧||pjo˧||ʈu˦˩||sɔŋ˨˩||ʑo˨˩||tɕu˩˧||tɕu˨˩|
|Hmong Shuat (Funing)||ʔi˥||ʔau˥||pʲei˥||plɔu˥||pʒ̩˥||tʃɔu˦||ɕaŋ˦||ʑi˨˩||tɕa˦˨||kɔu˨˩|
|Hmong Dleub (Guangnan)||ʔi˥||ʔɑu˥||pei˥||plou˥||tʃɹ̩˥||ʈɻou˦||ɕã˦||ʑi˨˩||tɕuɑ˦˨||kou˨˩|
|Hmong Nzhuab (Maguan)||ʔi˥˦||ʔau˦˧||pei˥˦||plou˥˦||tʃɹ̩˥˦||ʈou˦||ɕaŋ˦||ʑi˨||tɕuɑ˦˨||kou˨|
|Northeastern Dian Miao (Shimenkan)||i˥||a˥||tsɿ˥||tl̥au˥||pɯ˥||tl̥au˧||ɕaɯ˧||ʑʱi˧˩||dʑʱa˧˥||ɡʱau˧˩|
|Xijia Miao (Shibanzhai)||i˥||u˧˩||pzɿ˧˩||pləu˧˩||pja˧˩||ʈo˨˦||zuŋ˨˦||ja˧||ja˧˩||ʁo˧˩|
- Duffy, 2007. Writing from these roots: literacy in a Hmong-American community
- Tanya Storch Religions and missionaries around the Pacific, 1500-1900 2006 p293 "he invented the first script for any Miao language"
Other branches had been left unclassified.
- Strecker, David. 1987. "The Hmong-Mien Languages." In Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area, 10 , no. 2: 1-11.
- Ratliff, Martha. 2010. Hmong–Mien language history. Canberra, Australia: Pacific Linguistics.
- 毛宗武, 李云兵 / Mao Zongwu, Li Yunbing. 1997. 巴哼语研究 / Baheng yu yan jiu (A Study of Baheng [Pa-Hng]). Shanghai: 上海远东出版社 / Shanghai yuan dong chu ban she.
- Yoshihisa Taguchi [田口善久] (2012). On the Phylogeny of the Hmong-Mien languages. Conference in Evolutionary Linguistics 2012.
- Matisoff, 2006. "Genetic versus Contact Relationship". In Aikhenvald & Dixon, Areal diffusion and genetic inheritance
- ɿ is commonly used by Sinologists to mean [ɨ].
- Li Jinping, Li Tianyi [李锦平, 李天翼]. 2012. A comparative study of Miao dialects [苗语方言比较研究]. Chengdu: Southwest Jiaotong University Press.