|Native to||Burma, China, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam|
|ca. 600,000 (2007)|
Western scholars group Akha, Hani and Honi into the Hani languages, treating all three as separate mutually unintelligible, but closely related, languages. The Hani languages are, in turn, classified in the Hanoish branch of Loloish. Alternatively, Chinese linguists consider all Hani languages, including Akha, to be dialects of a single language in accordance with China's official classification of ethnic groups, which groups all speakers of Hani languages into one ethnicity.
Speakers of Akha live in remote mountainous areas where it has developed into a wide-ranging dialect continuum. Dialects from villages separated by as little as ten kilometers may show marked differences. The isolated nature of Akha communities has also resulted in several villages with divergent dialects. Dialects from extreme ends of the continuum and the more divergent dialects are mutually unintelligible.
The Akha dialect spoken in Alu village, 55 kilometers northwest of Chiang Rai city in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand is described below. Katsura conducted his study in during the late 1960s. With a population of 400 it was, at the time, one of the largest Akha villages in Northern Thailand and was still growing as a result of cross-border migration from Burma. The Akha in Alu spoke no Standard Thai and communicated with outsiders using either Lahu Na or Shan.
The Alu dialect has 23 or 24 consonants depending on how the syllabic nasal is analyzed. The /m̩/, realized variously as [ˀm] or [m̥], can be analyzed as a separate single consonant or as sequences of /ʔm/ and /hm/. Katsura chose the latter but listed the /m/ component of the syllabic consonant with the vowels.
*Akha /ʔ/ is often described as glottal "tension" rather than a true stop
Any consonant may begin a syllable, but native Akha syllables which don't end in a vowel may only end in either -m or -ɔŋ. A few loan words have been noted that end in -aŋ or -aj. In the case of a nasal coda, some vowels become nasalized. Alu Akha distinguishes ten vowel qualities, contrasting rounded and unrounded back vowels at three heights while only the mid front vowels contrast roundness.
Three vowels, /u/, /ɔ/ and /ɯ/, show marked nasalization when followed by a nasal consonant becoming /ũ/, /ɔ̃/ and /ɯ̃/, respectively.
The table below lists the Akha varieties surveyed in Kingsada (1999), Shintani (2001), and Kato (2008), with autonyms and informant birth places given as well. All locations are in Phongsaly Province, northern Laos.
|Ko-Pala||pa33 la33 tshɔ55 ja11||Sen Kham village, Khua District, Phongsaly Province||Kingsada (1999)|
|Ko-Oma||kɔ33 ɔ55 ma11||Nana village, Phongsaly District, Phongsaly Province||Kingsada (1999)|
|Ko-Phuso||kɔ33 phɯ55 sɔ33||Phapung Kao village, Bun Neua District, Phongsaly Province||Kingsada (1999)|
|Ko-Puli||a11 kha11 pu33 li11||Culaosaen Kao village, Bun Tay District, Phongsaly Province||Kingsada (1999)|
|Ko-Chipia||a11 kha11 cɛ11 pja11||Sano Kao village, Bun Tay District, Phongsaly Province||Kingsada (1999)|
|Ko-Eupa||ɯ21 pa21||Cabe village, Bun Tay District, Phongsaly Province||Shintani (2001)|
|Ko-Nyaü||a11 kha11 ɲa11 ɯ55||Huayphot village, Khua District, Phongsaly Province||Shintani (2001)|
|Ko-Luma||lu21 ma21||Lasamay village, Samphan District, Phongsaly Province||Shintani (2001)|
|Akha Nukui||a21 kha21, nu21 ɣø21 a21 kha21||Kungci village, Nyot U District, Phongsaly Province||Kato (2008)|
- Mengbozhai 勐波寨, Menghan Town 勐罕寨, Jinghong City
- Agupu 阿古普 (also called Manwoke 曼窝科) in Leiwu 类吴, Mengsong Township 勐宋, Jinghong City
- Napazhai 那帕寨 in Damenglong 大勐笼, Jinghong City
- Baiya village 拜牙村 in Menghun 勐混, Menghai County (The Ake 阿克 subgroup lives in Lougu 楼固村, located in Menghun 勐混 as well.)
- Babingzhai 坝丙寨, Xidingshan 西定山, Menghai County
There are also ethnic Hani that are locally called Aini 爱尼 living in 7 villages on Nanlin Mountain 南林山 of southwestern Jinghong, namely Manbage 曼八阁, Manjinglong 曼景龙, Manjingnan 曼景囡, Mangudu 曼固独, Manbaqi 曼把奇, Manbasan 曼巴伞, and Manjingmai 曼景卖.
- Akha at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Akha". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- Katsura, M. (1973). "Phonemes of the Alu Dialect of Akha". Papers in Southeast Asian Linguistics No.3. Pacific Linguistics, the Australian National University. 3 (3): 35–54.
- 云南省编辑委员会编. 2009. "景洪县哈尼族社会调查." In 哈尼族社会历史调查, p.116-119. 民族出版社. ISBN 9787105087754
- 云南省编辑委员会编. 2009. "景洪县南林山哈尼族社会调查." In 哈尼族社会历史调查, p.109-119. 民族出版社. ISBN 9787105087754
- Hansson, Inga-Lill (2003). "Akha". In Graham Thurgood and Randy J. LaPolla. The Sino-Tibetan Languages. Routledge Language Family Series. London &New York: Routledge. pp. 236–252.
- Lewis, Paul (1968). "Akha phonology". Anthropological Linguistics. 10 (2): 8–18.
- Lewis, Paul (1973). "Tone in the Akha language". Anthropological Linguistics. 15 (4): 183–188.
- Nishida Tatsuo 西田 龍雄 (1966). アカ語の音素体系: タイ国北部における山地民アカ族の言語の記述的研究 [A Preliminary Report on the Akha Language ―A Language of a Hill Tribe in Northern Thailand]. 音声科学研究 Studia phonologica (in Japanese). 4 (1): 1–36.
- Word lists for language varieties of Laos
- Kingsadā, Thō̜ngphet, and Tadahiko Shintani. 1999. Basic Vocabularies of the Languages Spoken in Phongxaly, Lao P.D.R. Tokyo: Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa (ILCAA).
- Shintani, Tadahiko, Ryuichi Kosaka, and Takashi Kato. 2001. Linguistic Survey of Phongxaly, Lao P.D.R. Tokyo: Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa (ILCAA).
- Kato, Takashi. 2008. Linguistic Survey of Tibeto-Burman languages in Lao P.D.R. Tokyo: Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa (ILCAA).
- ELAR archive of Archaic Akha language documentation materials