|Native to||northwestern Hunan province, China|
|Ethnicity||8 million Tujia|
|Native speakers||70,000 (2005)|
tjs – Southern
tji – Northern
The Tujia language (Chinese: 土家语, pinyin: Tǔjiāyǔ) is a language spoken natively by the Tujia ethnicity in south-central China. It is unclassified within the Tibeto-Burman language family, due to pervasive influence from neighboring languages. There are two dialects, one Northern and one Southern. Both dialects are tonal languages with the tone contours of ˥ ˥˧ ˧˥ ˨˩. The Northern dialect has 21 initials, while the Southern dialect has 26 (with 5 additional aspirated initials). As for the finals, the Northern dialect has 25 and the Southern 30, 12 of which are used exclusively in loan words from the Chinese language. Its verbs make a distinction of active and passive voices; Its pronouns distinguish the singular and plural numbers along with the basic and possessive cases. As of 2005, the number of speakers was estimated for roughly 70,000 for the northern dialect (of which merely ca. 100 are monolingual), and 1,500 for the southern dialect, out of an ethnic population of 8 million.
Tujia autonyms include pi˧˥ tsi˥ kʰa˨˩ [毕孜卡] (pi˨˩ tsi˨˩ kʰa˨˩ in Ye 1995) and mi˧˥ tɕi˥ kʰa˧/˥ (Dai 2005). The Tujia people call their language "pi˧˥ tsi˥ sa˨˩" (Ye 1995).
"Tujia" (土家) literally means 'native people', which is the appellation that the Han Chinese had given to them due to their aboriginal status in the Hunan-Hubei-Chongqing area. The Tujia, on the other hand, call the Han Chinese "Kejia" (客家), which means 'guest people', since the Han Chinese had arrived later than the Tujia (Dai 2005).
Tujia is clearly a Tibeto-Burman language, but its position within that family is unclear, due to massive borrowing from other Tibeto-Burman languages. It has been placed with Loloish and Qiangic, but many leave it unclassified.
Tujia is divided into two major dialects. The Northern dialect has the vast majority of speakers, while the Southern dialect is spoken in only 3 villages of Tanxi Township 潭溪镇 in Luxi County. Almost all Tujia speakers are located in Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture.
- Northern (Biji 毕基): Baojing County, Longshan County, Guzhang County, Yongshun County
- Hushi 互士语
- Xia 虾语
- Shasha 沙沙语
- Southern (Mengzi 孟兹): Tanxi Township 潭溪镇 in Luxi County
The Tujia-speaking areas of Longshan County are mostly located around the Xiche River 洗车河. The variety studied in Tujiayu Jianzhi (土家语简志) is that of Dianfang Township 靛房乡, Longshan County. Ye (1995) focuses on the Northern variety of Xinghuo Village 星火村, Miao'ertan Township 苗儿滩镇 (formerly Miaoshi 苗市), Longshan County 龙山县. Brassett (2006) based their Tujia data primarily on the variety of Tasha Township 他砂乡, Longshan County, and also partly from Pojiao Township 坡脚乡 and Dianfang Township 靛房乡. Dai (2005) focuses on the variety of Xianren Township 仙仁乡, Baojing County.
Chen Kang (2006:152) divides Tujia as follows.
- Longshan dialect 龙山土语 - spoken in:
- Baojing dialect 保靖土语 - spoken in:
- Southern - spoken in the following villages of Tanxi Township 潭溪乡, Luxi County:
- Xiadu 下都 (Tujia: tsʰie˨˩ bu˨˩)
- Puzhu 铺竹 (Tujia: pʰu˧ dzɯ˧)
- Boluozhai 波洛寨 (Tujia: bo˧ lo˧ tsai˩˧)
- Qieji 且己 (Tujia: tsʰa˧ dʑi˧˥)
- Xiaqieji 下且己 (Tujia: tsʰa˧ dʑi˧˥ a˨˩ di˧˥)
- Daboliu 大波流 (Tujia: tsʰie˨˩ dɯ˥ pʰo˨˩)
- Xiaolingzhai 小零寨 (Tujia: tsʰie˥ ȵĩ˧˥ sa˧)
- Limuzhai 梨木寨 (Tujia: li˨˩ mu˨˩ tsai˩˧)
- Tumazhai 土麻寨 (Tujia: tʰɯ˩˧ ma˨˩ tsai˩˧)
- Tanxi Town 潭溪镇 (Tujia: hu˧ dɯ˧)
Yang Zaibiao (2011:4) reports that Tujia is spoken in over 500 natural villages comprising about 200 administrative villages and 34 townships. The Northern Tujia autonym is pi˧˥ tsɿ˥ kʰa˨˩, and the Southern Tujia autonym is mõ˨˩ dzɿ˨˩ (Yang 2011:15). Yang covers the two Northern Tujia dialects of Dianfang 靛房 and Xiaolongre 小龙热, and the Southern Tujia dialect of Qieji 且己.
- Longshan County (southeastern; 15 townships): Xichehe 洗车河镇, Longtou 隆头镇, Miao'ertan 苗儿滩镇, Dianfang 靛房镇, Luota 洛塔乡, Ganxi 干溪乡, Mengxi 猛西乡, Fengxi 凤溪镇, Pojiao 坡脚乡, Tasha 他砂乡, Neixi 内溪乡, Jiashi 贾市乡, Yanchong 岩冲乡, Changxi 长潭乡, Liye 里耶镇
- Yongshun County (western; 5 townships): Duishan 对山乡, Heping 和平乡, Xiqi 西歧乡, Shouche 首车镇, Shaoha 勺哈乡
- Baojing County (western and southeastern; 10 townships):
- Western Baojing County: Longtou 隆头乡, Bi'er 比耳乡, Mawang 马王乡, Bamao 拔茅镇, Purong 普戎镇, Angdong 昂洞乡, Longxi 龙溪乡, Boji 簸箕乡
- Southeastern Baojing County: Tuzha 涂乍乡, Xianren 仙人乡
- Guzhang County (northwestern; 2 townships): Qietong 茄通 (including in Xiaolongre 小龙热村 ɕiao˥ lũ˨˩ ze˥), Duanlong 断龙乡
- Luxi County (1 township): Tanxi 潭溪镇 (including in Qieji 且己村 tsʰa˧ dʑi˧˥ / tsʰe˥˧ dʑi˨˩)
- Laifeng County (1 township): Hedong 河东乡 (Cancun 残存)
Brassett, Brassett, & Lu (2006) have proposed an experimental Pinyin orthography for the Tujia language, as follows.
|Symbol||Pitch||Name of tone|
|1||˥ or ˦||High level|
|2||˨˦ or ˧˥||Low rising|
|4||˥˩ or ˥˧||High falling|
Possible Tujia script
The Tujia have been known as an ethnic minority (historically) without a written language. Yet a succession of ancient undeciphered books with glosses presented in Chinese characters have been found in the Youyang Tujia habitation straddling the borders of Hunan, Hubei, Guizhou Province, and Chongqing City. Modern Tujia is written in Latin script.
Although only a small percentage of Tujia people speak the Tujia language, Tujia language enthusiasts work hard on the language preservation in both Hunan and Hubei. According to news reports, two Tujia language instruction books have been published, and work continues on a Tujia dictionary. The Tujia language scholar Chu Yongming (储永明) works with children at the Baifusi Ethnic Minorities School (百福司民族小学) in Baifusi Town, Fang County, Hubei to promote the language use.
- Southern reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
Northern reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
- Tujia, Northern
- Tujia, Southern
- Chen Kang [陈康]. 2006. A study of Tujia [土家语研究]. Beijing: Minzu University Press.
- Li Jingzhong [李敬忠]. 2000. The Luxi Tujia language [泸溪土家语]. Beijing: Minzu University Press.
- Yang Zaibiao [杨再彪] (2011). Four endangered languages of Hunan province [湖南西部四种濒危语言调查]. Beijing: Ethnic Publishing House [民族出版社].
- Indecipherable Ancient Books Found in Chongqing
- Bruce Humes, Rejuvenating the Tujia Language No Easy Feat, based on 王功尚,蒲哲,孙文振 (2012-04-17), 大山深处的土家语传承与坚守
- Brassett, Philip, Cecilia Brassett, and Meiyan Lu. 2006. The Tujia language. Languages of the World/Materials 455. Munich: Lincom Europa.
- Chen Kang [陈康]. 2006. A Study of Tujia [土家语研究]. Beijing: Minzu University.
- Dai Qinxia [戴庆厦]. 2005. A Study of Xianren Tujia [仙仁土家语研究]. Beijing: Minzu University.
- Ye Deshu [叶德书]. 1995. A Study of Tujia [土家语研究].
|Tujia language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|