Northern Tai languages

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

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.


Ethnologue[2] distinguishes the following languages.

(See varieties of Zhuang.)

Yoy is elsewhere classified as Southwestern Tai, and E, which appears to be a mixed language on a Northern-Thai base.

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, Wuming, 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. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Northern Tai". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  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.