Tai Daeng language

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Tai Daeng
Red Tai
Tay l ɛ ɛ ŋ
RegionNorthwestern Vietnam
Northeastern Laos
EthnicityTai Daeng
Native speakers
(100,000 cited 1995–2007)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3tyr
Lenguas Tai suroccidentales.png
Distribution of the Southwestern Tai languages.

Tai Daeng, Táy-Môc-Châu or Red Tai is the language of the Tai Daeng people of northwestern Vietnam and across the border into northeastern Laos. It belongs to the Tai language family, being closely connected with Black Tai and White Tai, as well as being more distantly related to the language spoken in modern Thailand, heretofore referred to as Siamese. Classified as part of the Thái official ethnic community in Vietnam and of the Phu Tai composite group in Laos.[3] However, speakers in Vietnam tend to identify with Black Tai, or Tai Dam, thus denying that they are Red Tai.


Tai Daeng is classified as belonging to the Tai-Kadai language group located across India and Southeast Asia, located in the Tai languages and Southwestern Tai languages subgroups.


See Tai languages#Pittayaporn (2009).

Proto-Tai is the reconstructed common ancestor from which all of the Tai language family is descended, including Tai Daeng. Proto-Tai has been linguistically reconstructed using the comparative method by Fang-Kuei Li in 1977 and by Pittayawat Pittayaporn in 2009.[4][5]

Dating the separations of various branches of the Tai language tree from their ancestral Proto-Tai and their respective evolutions into modern languages is inexact and frequently subject to debate. Pittayaporn's work on the reconstruction of Proto-Tai posits that the split between Proto-Tai and Proto-Southwestern Tai likely occurred during the 8th-10th centuries, citing the presence and development of Chinese loan words in Proto-Southwestern Tai [6] Within the Southwestern Tai language family, internal classification is still a matter of dispute and is complicated by the high degree of linguistic diffusion and convergence present in Mainland Southeast Asia, with even genealogically unrelated languages measuring closely on Dahl's typological distance.[7] However, the spread of the Tai peoples is generally attested to have occurred over millennia as southward movements from China towards the lowlands of MSEA in a shift which produced a commensurate cultural and linguistic change [8]

Tai Daeng and several other languages, including Black Tai and White Tai, diverged from Proto-Southwestern Tai with a distinguishing phonological feature documented by James Chamberlain: *ABCD 123-4; B=DL.[9][clarification needed]

Geographic distribution[edit]

The number of Tai Daeng speakers is generally estimated at 80,000 native speakers, with an ethnic population of roughly 100,000 located mostly in Vietnam.

In China, Tai Daeng (Chinese: 傣亮) people are located in the following townships of Yunnan province, with about 2,000 people (Gao 1999).[10] They are referred to by the neighboring Han Chinese, Miao, and Yao peoples as Dry Tai (Gan Dai 旱傣).

  • Qiaotou Town 桥头镇, Hekou County 河口县 (in the 3 villages of Shiyajiao 石崖脚,[11] Baini 白尼,[12] and Fangluocheng 方洛成; population 600)
  • Gulingqing Township 古林菁乡, Maguan County 马关县 (in the 2 villages of Panzhihua 攀枝花[13] and Dongzong 董棕[14]); population 500)


All of the Tai language family have their sounds arranged in syllables, with each having an initial consonant or consonant cluster along with a vowel or a diphthong and sometimes ending in a final consonant. Each syllable will also have a tone. Like many in the Tai language family, Tae Daeng may have different tones on free or checked syllables. Free syllables are those which end in a vowel, a nasal or a semivowel while checked syllables are those having a final p, t, k or a glottal stop. Tae Daeng has five tones on free syllables:[15]

  • 1. Rising from middle pitch to high pitch and then leveling off: huu 'ear', taa 'eye'
  • 2. Level and high, slightly lower than the highest point of the first tone: say egg' faa 'to split'
  • 3. Low rising and glottalized: hay 'to weep' or 'dry field', haa 'five', naŋ 'to sit'
  • 4. Mid with slight and gradual fall: naa 'rice field', cim 'to taste'
  • 5. High falling, glottalized: nɔŋ 'younger sibling', haay 'bad'

The first tone can employ glottalization, but is not mandatory. Tae Daeng has two tones on checked syllables:

  • 2. Level, mid or somewhat higher than mid: lap 'to close (the eyes)' or 'to harpen', mat 'flea' or 'to tie up in a bundle', bɔɔk 'flower'
  • 3. Low rising: moot 'one'. According to Gedney, the nucleus of syllables of this type is always a diphthong or a phonetically long vowel.



General description of the morphology of the language. The Tai-Kadai language family generally feature minimal level of morphological change, with little modification for case, gender or number, a lack of verb conjugation and little verbal or nominal inflection. Tae Deang frequently employs serial verb construction in which two or more verbs are strung together in one clause.,.[16][17]


Tae Daeng, as with most of the Tai Language family, employ a Subject-Verb-Order word order and because of the lack of inflections upon verbs, syntactical functions are largely derived from word order and prepositions. Particles are highly adaptive and can usually be found at the end of a sentence in order to emphasize, question, command or indicate a level of familiarity or respect.

Writing system[edit]

Tai Daeng differs from its close relations White Tai and Black Tai in that while it doesn't feature a writing system of its own, speakers make occasional usage of the Tai Viet script.[18]


  1. ^ Tai Daeng at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Tai Daeng". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ = http://www.endangeredlanguages.com/lang/1428
  4. ^ Li, Fang Kuei. “A Handbook of Comparative Tai”. Oceanic Linguistics Special Publications 15 (1977): i–389. Web...
  5. ^ http://language.psy.auckland.ac.nz/austronesian/language.php?id=698
  6. ^ Pittayaporn, Pittayawat (2014). Layers of Chinese Loanwords in Proto-Southwestern Tai as Evidence for the Dating of the Spread of Southwestern Tai. MANUSYA: Journal of Humanities, Special Issue No 20: 47–64.
  7. ^ http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/pubman/item/escidoc:1100599/component/escidoc:1261615/Enfield-2011-Linguistic+diversity+in+MSEA.pdf
  8. ^ Enfield, N. J.. “Areal Linguistics and Mainland Southeast Asia”. Annual Review of Anthropology 34 (2005): 181–206. Web...
  9. ^ Chamberlain, James R. 1975. "A new look at the history and classification of the Tai dialects." In J. G. Harris and J. R. Chamberlain, eds, Studies in Tai Linguistics in Honor of William J. Gedney, pp. 49-60. Bangkok: Central Institute of English Language, Office of State Universities.
  10. ^ Gao Lishi 高立士. 1999. 傣族支系探微. 中南民族学院学报 (哲学社会科学版). 1999 年第1 期 (总第96 期).
  11. ^ http://www.ynszxc.gov.cn/villagePage/vIndex.aspx?departmentid=153463
  12. ^ http://www.ynszxc.gov.cn/villagePage/vIndex.aspx?departmentid=153464
  13. ^ http://www.ynszxc.gov.cn/villagePage/vIndex.aspx?departmentid=101474
  14. ^ http://www.ynszxc.gov.cn/villagePage/vIndex.aspx?departmentid=101475
  15. ^ http://www.khamkoo.com/uploads/9/0/0/4/9004485/a_comparative_sketch_of_white_black_and_red_tai.pdf
  16. ^ Diller, Anthony V. N. , Jerold A. Edmondson and Yongxian Luo , "The Tai-Kadai Languages" . (Abingdon: Routledge, 11 Jun 2008 ), accessed 28 Apr 2016 , Routledge Handbooks Online.
  17. ^ 'Tai Languages'. D. Strecker. In The World's Major Languages, 653-659. B. Comrie (ed). Routledge (2009)
  18. ^ http://www.khamkoo.com/uploads/9/0/0/4/9004485/a_comparative_sketch_of_white_black_and_red_tai.pdf