Ersuic languages

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Native toChina
Native speakers
(20,000 cited 1982)[1]
Ersu Shaba script
Language codes
ISO 639-3ers

The Ersuic languages (Chinese: 尔苏, Ersu; also called Duoxu or Erhsu) are a Qiangic language cluster of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Ersu languages are spoken by about 20,000 people in China as reported by Sun (1982).[2] Muya (alternatively Menia or Menya) is reported to be related, but it is not known how it fits in.

Ersuic speakers live in the western part of China's Sichuan province (several counties within the Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, and the prefecture-level city of Ya'an).[2] Most of them are classified by the Chinese government as members of the Tibetan ethnic group,[1][2] although some also are registered as Han Chinese.[1] Older adults mostly use Ersu, but younger people also use Chinese or Yi.

The Ersu Shaba script of the shābā religious books is a pictographic system of proto-writing. The system, in which the color of the characters has an effect on the meaning, was inspired by Chinese writing and was created in the 11th century.


There are three Ersuic languages.[3]

  • Ersu 尔苏 (Eastern Ersu) – 13,000 speakers[4]
  • Lizu 傈苏, 里汝, 吕苏 (Western Ersu) – 4,000 speakers;[4] 7,000 speakers[5]
  • Tosu 多续 (Central Ersu) – 3,000 speakers;[4] almost none remaining[5]

Yu (2012) classifies Ersu languages as follows, with defining innovations given in parentheses.

  • Tosu
  • Ersu (ja- adjective prefix)
    • Hanyuan 汉源
    • Zeluo 则落 / Qingshui 清水 (*ui- > ri-, *tɕ- > ts-, etc.)
  • Lizu (*j- > ɲ-, *Ke > Kɯ, *riu > ri)


Ersu is a subject–object–verb language. It has three tones.

Further reading[edit]

  • Chirkova, Katia and Wang, Dehe and Chen, Yiya and Amelot, Angélique and Kocjančič Antolík, Tanja (2015). "Ersu". Illustrations of the IPA. Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 45 (2): 187–211. doi:10.1017/S0025100314000437{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link), with supplementary sound recordings.


  1. ^ a b c Ersu at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ a b c "Ěrsūyǔ" 尔苏语 [Ersu Language]. Zhōngguó mínzú yǔyán yánjiū wǎng 中国民族语言研究网 (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 2012-04-26.
  3. ^ Yu (2012).
  4. ^ a b c Sun (1982).
  5. ^ a b Chirkova (2008).

Works cited[edit]

  • Chirkova, Katia (2008). Essential Characteristics of Lizu, a Qiangic Language of Western Sichuan. Workshop on Tibeto-Burman Languages of Sichuan, November 21–24, 2008.
  • Huang, Bufan 黄布凡; Renzeng, Wangmu 仁增旺姆 (1991). "Lǚsūyǔ" 吕苏语 [The Lǚsū Language]. In Dai, Qingxia 戴庆厦; et al. (eds.). Zàng-Miǎnyǔ shíwǔ zhǒng 藏缅语十五种 [Fifteen Tibeto-Burman Languages] (in Chinese). Beijing: Yanshan chubanshe. pp. 132–152.
  • Sun, Hongkai 孙宏开 (1982). "Ěrsū (Duōxù) Huà jiǎnjiè" 尔苏(多续)话简介 [A Brief Introduction to Ersu (Doshu)]. Yǔyán yánjiù 语言研究 (in Chinese). 3: 241–264.
  • Yu, Dominic (2012). Proto-Ersuic (PDF) (Ph.D. thesis). University of California, Berkeley.

External links[edit]