|Yi, Ngwi, Nisoic|
|Southern China and Southeast Asia|
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 Tibeto-Burman languages. 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. All Loloish languages show significant Mon–Khmer influence.
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. (See Yi people.)
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 is 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:
- Northern Loloish: Nuosu, Nasu, etc.
- Central Loloish: Lisu–Lipho (incl. Lolopo, Lalo), Micha (Central) Yi, Lahu, Jinuo, etc.
- Southern Loloish: Akha–Hani, Phunoi–Bisu, Pholo, and ’Ugong (aberrant; removed in Bradley 1997)
- Southeastern Loloish: Nisu, Phula, Sani, Azha, Khlula, Muji, Phowa, etc.
Ugong is divergent; Bradley (1997) places it with the Burmish languages. The Tujia language is difficult to classify due to massive influence from both Yi and Chinese. However, it may turn out to be a Loloish language. Bai also has numerous connections to Loloish, but its oldest core of vocabulary appears to be Old Chinese, and so it may be a Sinitic rather than Loloish language. Other unclassified Loloish languages are Gokhy (Gɔkhý), Ayizi and Chesu ('Northern'), Lopi, Ache, Limi, and Mili.
Lama (2012) classified 36 Lolo–Burmese languages based on computational analyses of shared phonological 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).
Listed below are lesser-known ethnolinguistic groups that speak Loloish languages. Most of these groups speak languages of uncertain affiliation within Loloish, and are under-documented or undocumented.
|Ethnolinguistic group||Population||Linguistic affiliation||Locations|
|A Che 阿车||35,000||Southern Yi (ISO 639-3: yif)||Shuangbai County (pop. 23,000) and Yimen County (pop. 11,100) of Chuxiong Prefecture|
|Adu 阿笃||6,500+||Form of Chinese similar to the Dajie District dialect of Jiangchuan County, and the Zijun dialect of Kunming||Huaning County (pop. 3,500) in Songzichang 松子厂, Xinzhai 新寨, Keju, and Chengmentong; Haikou District 海口镇 in Chengjiang County (pop. 2,025)|
|Aling 阿灵||5,500||Eastern Yi; similar to Da Hei Neisu and Xiao Hei Neisu||Shizong County (pop. 5,600) in Yimai, Faze, Chezhai 扯寨, Musheluo 木舍落, Yinie, Qianjia, Shugandian, and Dashao; Longhai Mountains of Luliang County (pop. 2400); Shilin County: Guishan (mostly in Yumeidu Village), Zhuqing, and Dake districts|
|Alu 阿鲁 (Luwu, Luowu)||5,500 (China); 1,407 (Laos)||Southern Yi||Hama Village 哈马, Huangcaoling Township 黄草岭乡, Yuanyang County; Laojizhai Township 老集寨乡, Jinping County; possibly Simao Prefecture, Jiangcheng County (people also called Alu); Gnot-Ou District, Phongsali Province, Laos|
|Ati 阿梯||12,600 (1999)||Southeastern Yi||Huaning County; smaller numbers also in Jianshui County|
|Awu, Northern 阿乌(北)||3,500||Northern Yi, related to Xiaoliangshan Nosu, Talu, Liwu, Tagu, and Naza||Peiyuan 培元村, Shuiping 水坪村, and Yongle 永乐村 Villages of Da'an Township 大安彝族纳西族乡, Yongsheng County|
|Ayizi 阿夷子 (Ge)||426 (1986)||Eastern Yi or Southeastern Yi? (ISO 639-3: yyz)||Shilin County: Aimailongcun Village 爱买龙, Beidacun Township 北大村乡; also in Banqiao Township 板桥乡, and other parts of Beidacun 北大村乡|
|Azong 阿宗||1,000||Southern Yi or Western Yi?||Jiangcheng County|
|Budo 布度||10,000+||Bi-Ka branch, closely related to Biyo and Kado; people classified as Hani||Ailao Mountains 哀牢山, Mojiang County and Yuanjiang County; possibly also Xinping County|
|Chesu 车苏||6,600||Southern Yi, similar to Lesu; the Chesu claim that their language is not a Yi language (ISO 639-3: ych)||Southern Shuangbai County, northern Xinping County|
|Daizhan 带占||11,600||Southeastern Yi, related to Puwa, Digao, Asahei, Ani, and Labapo||Beige Township 碑格乡, Kaiyuan County|
|Depo 得颇 (Adou[puo], Gan Yi)||6,000||Eastern Nasu?||Panzhihua, Sichuan|
|Doupo 都泼||600+||Eastern Nasu?||Mafang Village 马房, Fumin County (pop. 400), Guanshanchang Village 官山场, Qinglong Township 青龙镇, Anning County (pop. 200)|
|Duota 多它||11,000+||Southern Yi or Northern Yi?; speakers variously classified as Yi and Hani||Mojiang County, Yuanjiang County|
|Enipu 厄尼蒲||16,000+||Central Yi||Nanjian County (pop. 11,000): Wanubu 瓦怒卜, Baishajing 白沙井, and Laojiaku 老家库 Villages of Ximin Township, and Ertaipo 二台坡 Villages, Langcang Township 浪沧乡; Weishan County (pop. 5,000): Yinchang 银厂村, Qinghe 青和村, Qingmin 箐民村, and Wuxing 五星村 Villages of Qinghua Township 青华乡|
|Gaiji 改积||30,000||Western Yi||Central Yun County|
|Gaisu, Southern 改苏(南) (Bailili, Luozu)||35,000||Southern Yi||Eastern Kaiyuan County (pop. 35,000); small portion of Gejiu County (pop. 1,400)|
|Gaisu, Western 改苏(西) (Luoren)||1,000||Western Yi?||Northeastern Yongde County; possibly in Myanmar|
|Gepo, Western 葛泼(西)||6,500||Western Yi?||Liuhe Township 六合彝族乡, Heqing County|
|Gese 葛色||12,000||Eastern Yi; most of their neighbors speak Central Yi and Western Yi languages||Lufeng County: Eastern Tuo'an Township 妥安乡, Southern Gaofeng Township 高峰乡|
|Gesu 葛苏||12,000||Central Yi?||Dayao County, Wuding County|
|Gouzou 构邹||4,000||Eastern Yi||Weining County, Guizhou|
|Guaigun 乖滚||400||Southern Yi or Southeastern Yi?; unclassified||Southern Zhenyuan County: Tianba 田坝村, Santai 三台村, Lianhe 联合村, and Minjiang 民江村 of Tianba Township 田坝乡|
|Guopu 果铺 (Guoluo)||16,900||Eastern Yi||Weining County, in the Wumeng Mountains|
|Labapo 腊拔泼||6,400 (1999)||Southeastern Yi; classified as Aza||Kaiyuan County: more than 20 villages in Beige 碑格乡 and Dazhuang 大庄回族乡 Townships|
|Lagou 腊勾||8,000+||Same as Nasu?; former slaves of the Nasu people||Weining County (pop. 6,000+), Yiliang County of Zhaotong Prefecture (pop. 2000)|
|Laka 腊卡||6,000+||Same as Naluo?; subgroup of the Naluo people||Wuding County|
|Lami 腊米||100,000||Western Yi; mostly classified as Yi, some as Hani||Yuanyang County (in Habo 哈播村), Pu'er County, 5 other counties; northern Vietnam|
|Laopang 劳旁||12,000||Lahu?||Yongde or Yongkang; northern Myanmar|
|Laowu 老乌||6,300 (1999)||Southern Yi||Western Jinping County|
|Lemo 勒墨||2,000+||Lisu and Tai Mao mixed language, or Chinese?; classified as Lisu||Lemo 勒墨寨, Pianma Township 片马镇, 78 km (48 mi.) from Liuku Township 六库镇 (the seat of Nujiang Prefecture), along the Nujiang River|
|Lesu 勒苏||15,000||Southern Yi?; divergent (ISO 639-3: hle)||Xinping, Jinping, Zhenyuan, Eshan Counties|
|Limi 俐米||30,000||Western Yi (ISO 639-3: ylm)||Yongde County (Wumulong 乌木龙彝族乡 and Yalian 亚练乡 Townships); southern Guodazhai Township 郭大寨彝族白族乡, Fengqing County (pop. 4,000), and southeastern Yingpan Township 营盘村; Yun County (pop. 1,000)|
|Liude 六得||1,400||Northern Yi, with Xiaoliangshan Nosu influences?; closely related to Talu people||Yongsheng County: a few villages of Liude Township 六德乡|
|Liwu 里乌||4,300||Northern Yi||Yongsheng County: Liang'e and Jiehu Villages of Xinghu Township 星湖村|
|Long 弄||1,300||Southeastern Yi||Huaning County: 5 villages (Kazhai 卡寨, Sheyin 舍阴寨, Shemuduo 舍木多村, Suojigou 所基沟, and Pusulu 普苏鲁) in Xingcheng Township 新城村|
|Lopi 水田||Essentially extinct (ethnicity: 15,000+)||Central Yi (ISO 639-3: lov)||Panzhihua, Sichuan: Futian 福田 and Pingjiang 平江 Townships; northern Yunnan|
|Meng 孟||4,000||Akha branch||Shuangjiang County|
|Micha 密察||1,000+||Unclassified; Western Yi or Central Yi?||Nanjian County: around Aliwu 阿里勿 and Santaishan 三台山, southeast of Dali|
|Michi 米切 (Michia)||29,700||Central Yi, Eastern Yi, Southeastern Yi?||Northern Yunnan (mostly in Wuding County; also in Fumin, Lufeng, Luquan, Yimen, and Anning Counties) and Panzhihua, Sichuan|
|Mili 咪哩||23,000||Western Yi? (ISO 639-3: ymh)||Jingdong County: Anding 安定乡 and Wenlong 文龙乡 Townships; also in Zhenyuan and Xinping Counties|
|Minglang 明廊||1,500+||Related to Sani||Wuding County: Lower Lemei Village 下乐美 of Chadian Township 插甸乡, and Tianxin Village 田心 of Gaoqiao Township 高桥镇; Maoshan Township 茂山乡, Luquan County; probably also Fumin County|
|Mixisu 米习俗||5,000||Northern Yi||Xichang County and Mianning County|
|Muda 母打||2,300+||Phunoi branch; related to Bisu, and may be Sangkong (ISO 639-3: ymd)||Gasa Township 嘎洒镇, Jinghong County|
|Naluo 纳罗 (Alu, Gani)||37,000||Eastern Yi? (ISO 639-3: ylo)||Luquan, Wuding, Dongchuan, and Yuanmou Counties; small numbers in Huize County, and parts of Qujing Prefecture|
|Naru 纳儒||11,500+||Northern Yi||Southern and Central Yongsheng County (pop. 7,000), Southern Huaping County (pop. 4,500)|
|Naruo 纳若 (Zhili)||12,000||Northern Yi; may be the same as Xiaoliangshan Nosu||Yongsheng County, Huaping County|
|Naza 纳咱||1,300+||Northern Yi?||Nazan Village 纳咱, Liude Village 六德村, Liude Township 六德乡, Yongsheng County|
|Pengzi 棚子||250||Western Yi?||Wumulong Township 乌木龙彝族乡 (and possibly also Mengban Township 勐板乡), Yongde County|
|Popei 泼胚||3,000 - 5,000||Similar to Central Luoluopo||Huaping County (pop. 1,000; several villages), Dayao and Yongren Counties; small pockets in nearby regions|
|Qiangyi 羌夷||10,000||Western Yi or Southern Qiang?||Xiangyun County (pop. 9,000): Xiangme, Ziqianglang 自羌朗村, Huangcaoshao 黄草哨村, Chuchang 楚场村, and Chalangshao 插朗哨村 Villages of Midian Township 米甸彝族镇; Daying 大营村 and Xinxingzuo 兴左下村 Villages of Hedian Township 禾甸乡; Binchuan County (pop. 1,000)|
|Samadu, Eastern 撒马多(东) (Samaduo)||600||Eastern Yi or Southeastern Yi? (ISO 639-3: ysd)||Zijun Village 子君村, Yiliu Township 矣六乡, Guandu District, Kunming|
|Samadu, Western 撒马堵(西)||7,500 (1999)||Western Yi?||Zhenkang County (pop. 6,000), Yongde County (pop. 1,500)|
|Sanda 散达||1,000 (1996)||Related to Jino and Ake?||Between Jingdong and Menglian Counties: 6 villages in the Sanda Mountains|
|Sansu 散苏||12,000 (1995)||Related to Hani?; originally non-Tibeto-Burman, but now classified as Hani (ISO 639-3: hle)||Yuanjiang County|
|Suan 蒜||250||Western Yi?||Yongde County: Wumulong Township 乌木龙彝族乡 and Mengban Township 勐板乡; neighbors with the Pengzi people|
|Tagu 塔谷||3,500+||Northern Yi (ISO 639-3: yta)||Yongsheng County: Dongshan and Gai Villages (including Taguping 他谷坪), Dongshan Township 东山乡; Ninglang County|
|Tushu 土数||5,000+||Eastern Yi||Weining County, Yiliang County of Zhaotong Prefecture|
|Tusu 土族||31,000||Western Yi?||Xiangyun County: Da'aonai Village of Luming Township 鹿鸣乡; Jindan, Zhifang, and Dacang Villages of Xiazhuang Township 下庄镇; Jiangwei Village of Pupeng Township 普棚镇; Dongshan Township 东山乡; Dayao County (in Beiyangdi Village in Sanchahe Township 三岔河乡, and in Tiesuo Township 铁锁乡) and Binchuan County|
|Woni 窝尼||110,000||Bi-Ka branch; people classified as Hani, but may be an assimilated Mon-Khmer group||Mojiang, Pu'er, and Simao Counties|
|Wopu 窝普||3,000+||Eastern Yi; may be similar to Da Hei Neisu||Xingyi County of Guizhou, Luoping County of Yunnan; possibly also Longlin or Xilin Counties of Guangxi|
|Xiangtang 香堂||80,000||Western Yi||9 scattered counties of southwestern Yunnan; far-western Lüchun County|
|Xijima 洗期麻||30,000||Western Yi||Central Yun County|
|Xiqi 西期||13,000||Southeastern Yi||Huaning County, Yuxi Prefecture: Tonghongdian Township 通红甸乡 (in Suomeizao 所梅早村 and Dapozuo 大婆左村), Panxi Township 盘溪镇 (in and around Yide, Fagao, Dayaxi, and Longtanying), Huaxi Township 华溪镇 (in and around Xishajing 西沙井 and Dujiacun 独家村), Qinglong Township 青龙镇 (in Shanzhi and Qize), Chengjiao Township (on Denglou Mountain 登楼山)|
|Yiche 以车||19,000||Similar to Hani; people classified as Hani||Honghe Prefecture: Chegu 车古乡, Langdi 浪堤乡, and Dayangjie 大羊街乡 Townships|
- van Driem, George (2001) Languages of the Himalayas: An Ethnolinguistic Handbook of the Greater Himalayan Region. Brill.
- Lama, Ziwo Qiu-Fuyuan (2012), Subgrouping of Nisoic (Yi) Languages, thesis, University of Texas at Arlington (archived)
- Thurgood & LaPolla, 2003, The Sino-Tibetan languages, p. 9
- Benedict, Paul K. (1987). "Autonyms: ought or ought not." Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 10: 188. Italics in original.
- Jacques, Guillaume, and Alexis Michaud. 2011. "Approaching the historical phonology of three highly eroded Sino-Tibetan languages." Diachronica 28:468-498.
- Ethnologue (2009) mistakenly divides the languages under the synonymous branch names Loloish, Lolo, and Ngwi. This should be fixed in the 17th edition.