Thou-Kathu language

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Native toChina
RegionGuangnan County
Native speakers
5,000 (2007)[1]
  • Thou
  • Kathu
Language codes
ISO 639-3ykt

Kathu and Thou (Chinese: 嘎苏话) constitute a Lolo-Burmese language of Balong (坝聋), Nanping Township (南屏镇), Guangnan County, Yunnan, China.[3] The Kathu are locally known as the White Yi (白彝). Wu Zili (2004) estimates that Kathu has a total of more than 7,000 speakers in Guangnan County (including in Dayashao 大牙少[4]), as well as in Jinping County, Yunnan. Ethnologue mentions a possible presence in Guangxi Province.

Kathu-Thou is notable for having initial consonant clusters, which within the Lolo-Burmese branch are also found in Written Burmese (Old Burmese) and Jinuo (Hsiu 2014:66).[5] Wu (2004) lists the onset clusters pl, pʰl, bl, ml, kl, kʰl, gl, ql, qʰl, ɢl, ŋl.


Hsiu (2014:65)[5] identifies two varieties, both spoken in Nanping Township (南屏镇).

  • Kathu (autonym: ka33 θu33), spoken in Anwang village 安王村
  • Thou (autonym: θou̯53), spoken in Balong village 坝聋村


Kathu vocabulary is largely similar to those of other Mondzish languages. However, there are various words that do not appear to be of Lolo-Burmese origin, and are derived from an unknown Tibeto-Burman branch (Hsiu 2014).[5] Hsiu (2014) suggests that Kathu could be added to George van Driem's list of Trans-Himalayan "fallen leaves."

Bradley (1997)[6] classified Kathu as a Northern Loloish language, while Bradley (2007)[7] classified it as a Southeastern Loloish language. However, Pelkey (2011:458)[8] notes that Kathu and Mo'ang are not Southeastern Loloish languages.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kathu at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Thou-Kathu". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c Hsiu, Andrew. 2014. "Mondzish: a new subgroup of Lolo-Burmese". In Proceedings of the 14th International Symposium on Chinese Languages and Linguistics (IsCLL-14). Taipei: Academia Sinica.
  6. ^ Bradley, David. 1997. "Tibeto-Burman languages and classification". In Tibeto-Burman languages of the Himalayas, Papers in South East Asian linguistics. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  7. ^ Bradley, David. 2007. East and Southeast Asia. In Moseley, Christopher (ed.), Encyclopedia of the World's Endangered Languages, 349-424. London & New York: Routledge.
  8. ^ Pelkey, Jamin. 2011. Dialectology as Dialectic: Interpreting Phula Variation. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
  • Wu Zili [武自立]. 2004. "Gasu language [嘎僳话]". In Studies on selected languages of Yunnan [云南特殊语言研究], 486-513. Kunming: Yunnan People's Press [云南民族出版社]. ISBN 7536730624

Further reading[edit]