|Va, Vo, Awa|
|Region||Burma, China, Thailand|
|Native speakers||1.3 million (2000)|
prk – Parauk
wbm – Vo
vwa – Awa
Wa (Va) is the language of the Wa people of Burma and China. There are three distinct varieties, sometimes considered separate languages; their names in Ethnologue are Parauk, the majority and standard form; Vo (40,000 speakers), and Awa (100,000 speakers), though all may be called Wa, Awa, Va, Vo. David Bradley (1994) estimates there are total of 820,000 Wa speakers.
Distribution and variants 
Gerard Diffloth, the leading scholar on the Palaungic languages, refers to the Wa geographic region as the "Wa corridor," which lies between the Salween and Mekong Rivers. According to Diffloth, variants include South Wa, "Bible Wa," and Kawa (Chinese Wa).
Christian Wa are more likely to support the use of Standard Wa, since their Bible is based on a standard version of Wa, which is in turn based on the variant spoken in Bang Wai, 150 miles north of Kengtung (Watkins 2002). Bang Wai is located in northern Shan State, Burma, close to the Chinese border where Cangyuan County is located.
Certain dialects of Wa preserve a final -/s/. They include the variants spoken in Meung Yang and Ximeng County (such as a variety spoken in Zhongke 中课, Masan 马散, Ximeng County that was documented by Zhou & Yan (1984)) (Watkins 2002:8).
David Bradley (1994) estimates that there is a total of about 500,000 Wa speakers in Burma.
David Bradley (1994) estimates that there are 322,000 Wa speakers in China. In China, the Wa people live in (Watkins 2002):
- Ximeng County (83% of total)
- Cangyuan County (71% of total)
- Menglian County (over 25% of total; other ethnic groups include the Dai and Lahu)
- Gengma County
- Shuangjiang County
- Lancang County
The three dialects of Wa (and their respective subdialects) according to Zhou, et al. (2004) are:
- 1. Baraoke 巴饶克: ~ 250,000 speakers; autonym: pa̱ rauk, pa̱ ɣaɯk
- Aishi 艾师 subdialect: 218,000 speakers
- Banhong 班洪 subdialect: 35,000 speakers
- Cangyuan County: Banhong 班洪、Banlao 班老、most of Nanla 南腊
- Dazhai 大寨 subdialect: 3,000 speakers
- Gengma County: Mengjian 勐简、Dazhai 大寨
- 2. Awa (Ava) 阿佤: ~ 100,000 speakers; autonym: ʔa vɤʔ
- Masan 马散 subdialect: 60,000 speakers
- Ximeng County: Mowo 莫窝、Xinchang 新厂、Zhongke 中课、Mengsuo 勐梭、Yuesong 岳宋、Wengjiake 翁戛科、parts of Lisuo 力所
- Awalai 阿佤来 subdialect: 3,000 speakers
- Ximeng County: Awalai 阿佤来 in Lisuo 力所
- Damangnuo 大芒糯 subdialect: 30,000 speakers
- Xiyun 细允 subdialect: 5,000 speakers
- Masan 马散 subdialect: 60,000 speakers
- 3. Wa 佤: ~ 40,000 speakers; autonym: vaʔ
Wa have also migrated to Thailand in the past several decades. There are about 10,000 Wa speakers in Thailand. Wa villages can be found in (Watkins 2002:6):
- Mae Sai District, Chiang Rai Province
- Wiang Papao District, Chiang Rai Province
- Chiang Dao District, Chiang Mai Province
Standard Wa is a non-tonal language. However, there are dialects which are tonal. There is correspondence between tones in tonal dialects and tenseness in non-tonal dialects.
In Wa, there are nine vowels: i, e, ɛ, a, ɯ, u, ɤ, o, ɔ. All of these vowels can be tense or lax. Tenseness is a phonemic feature in syllables with unaspirated initials.
There are diphthongs and triphthongs. The general syllabic structure of Wa is C(C)(V)V(V)(C). Only a few words have zero-initials.
- Zhizhi Zhou; Qixiang Yan; Guoqing Chen. 2004. A study of Wa dialects [佤语方言硏究]. Beijing: Ethnic Publishing House.
- "佤语研究", edited by 王敬骝.
- Bradley, David. 1994. "East and Southeast Asia." In Moseley, Christopher, et al. Atlas of the world's languages. London: Routledge.
- Watkins, Justin William. 2002. The phonetics of Wa: experimental phonetics, phonology, orthography and sociolinguistics. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University.