Central Tai languages

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Central Tai
China, Vietnam
Linguistic classification Tai–Kadai
  • Tai
    • Central Tai
Glottolog None
deba1238  (Debao–Jingxi–Nung)[1]

The Central Tai languages include southern dialects of Zhuang, and various Nung and Tày dialects of northern Vietnam.

Central Tai languages differ from Northern Tai languages in that Central Tai distinguishes unaspirated and aspirated onsets, while Northern Tai generally does not (Li 1977). Southwestern Tai also displays this kind of aspiration contrast.


William Gedney considers Central Tai to be more closely related to Southwestern Tai than to Northern Tai, while André-Georges Haudricourt argues for a closer relation to Northern Tai. Pittayaporn's (2009) tentative tree of the Tai branch, however, does not support the existence of Central Tai.

Certain languages in predominantly Central Tai-speaking areas, such as Caolan and Nùng An[2] in northern Vietnam, display Northern Tai features as well. These appear to be mixed languages that are not fully Central Tai or Northern Tai. Jerold A. Edmondson calls Caolan a "tertium quid."[3]


Many Central Tai languages are known as Nong 侬 (Nùng in Vietnamese) or Dai 岱 (Tày in Vietnamese).



  • Nung
    • Nùng Phạn Slinh
    • Nùng Cháo
    • Nùng Inh
    • Nùng An
    • Nùng Giang
  • Tày
    • Tày Bảo Lạc
    • Tày Trùng Khánh


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Debao–Jingxi–Nung". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  2. ^ http://sealang.net/sala/archives/pdf8/nicolson2000nung.pdf
  3. ^ Gregerson, Kenneth J., and Jerold A. Edmondson. 1998. Some puzzles in Cao Lan. University of Texas at Arlington.
  • Li, Fang-kuei. 1977. Handbook of Comparative Tai. Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawai’i Press.
  • Pittayaporn, Pittayawat. 2009. The Phonology of Proto-Tai. Ph.D. dissertation. Department of Linguistics, Cornell University.