Mienic languages

Last updated
Ethnicitysome of the Yao peoples
China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, United States
Linguistic classification Hmong–Mien
  • Mienic
Glottolog mien1242
Hmong Mien lang.png
Mienic languages:
  Iu Mien & Kim Mun
  Biao Min
  Dzao Min
Not shown: Biao Mon

The Mienic or Yao languages are spoken by the Yao people of China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand.


Some of the Yao peoples speak Hmongic languages (Miao); these are called Bunu . A small population of Yao people in Jinxiu Yao Autonomous County (金秀瑶族自治县) in eastern Guangxi speak a Tai-Kadai language called Lakkia. Other Yao peoples speak various Sinitic (Chinese) language varieties.


Mienic is one of the primary branches of the Hmong–Mien language family, with the other being Hmongic.

Ratliff (2010)

Martha Ratliff (2010:3) proposed the following classification: [1]

Strecker (1987)

Strecker 1987, [2] followed (with the addition of Moxi) by Matisoff 2001, proposed the following, with some of the more divergent varieties as additional languages:

Luang-Thongkum (1993)

Luang-Thongkum (1993:170) [3] proposes the following classification for Mjuenic, a proposed branch consisting of the Mien, Mun, and Muen (Biao Mon) languages. The classifications of Biao Min and Dzao Min are not addressed.


Mao (2004)

Mao Zongwu (2004) classifies the Mienic languages varieties of China as follows. Data points studied in Mao (2004) are also listed for each dialect.

A Mienic lect called bjau2 mwan2 ("Biao Man 标曼"), related to Mien of Changping and Luoxiang, is spoken in Liuchong 六冲, Qiaoting Township 桥亭乡, Pingle County 平乐县, Guangxi (Tang 1994); another "Biao Man 标曼" dialect is spoken in Dongpingdong 东坪洞 (Tang 1994). [7] There are about 10,000 speakers in Mengshan, Lipu, Pingle, and Zhaoping counties.

The comparative vocabulary chart in Mao Zongwu (2004) consists of the following languages.

  1. Guangdian Mien (Jiangdi); autonym: mjen31
  2. Diangui Kim Mun (Liangzi); autonym: kjeːm33 mun33
  3. Dongshan Biao Min; autonym: bjau31 min31
  4. Daping Dzao Min; autonym: dzau53 min53
  5. Xiangnan Mien (Miaoziyuan); autonym: mjəŋ31
  6. Changping Mien ( = Biao Mon); autonym: bjau31 moːn31
  7. Luoxiang Mien; autonym: bjau31 mwan31
  8. Fanghai Kim Mun (Tansan); autonym: kiːm33 mun33
  9. Shikou Biao Min ( = Chao Kong Meng); autonym: mɔu31 jɔu55
  10. Niuweizhai Biao Min ( = Moxi); autonym: mɔ433 ɕi53

Aumann & Sidwell (2004)

Using Mao's (2004) new data, Aumann & Sidwell (2004) propose the following classification of the Mienic languages, based on innovations in rhotic consonants. [8] This classification presents a bipartite division of the Mienic into a subgroup consisting of Iu Mien and Biao Min, and another subgroup consisting of Kim Mun and Dzao Min. Luoxiang is grouped with Kim Mun, while Changping is grouped with Dzao Min.

Aumann & Sidwell (2004) consider the following classification by Wang & Mao to be unlikely, which is based on the voicing of voiceless sonorants, a common areal feature.

Taguchi (2012)

Yoshihisa Taguchi's (2012) computational phylogenetic study classifies the Mienic languages as follows. [9]



Zao Min

Biao Min (Dongshan)

Biao Min (Shikou)

Kim Mun (Diangui)

Mien (Changping, Luoxiang)

Mien (Guangdian, Xiangnan)

Hsiu (2018)

Hsiu's (2018) [10] computational phylogenetic study classifies the Mienic languages as follows.


Hsiu (2018) considers Changping Mien to have been influenced by Kim Mun lects due to geographical proximity, although it retains many unique forms that indicate it should belong in its own branch.

Mixed languages

Some languages may be mixed Chinese and Mienic (Yao) languages, such as:


Numerals in Mienic Languages [12]
Iu Mienjet12i33pwo33pjei33pia33tɕu55sje13ɕet12dwo31tsjop12
Ao Biao (Luoxiang)jit43vi33pu33pje33pla33kwo43ȵi11jat32du31ɕep32
Biao Mon (Changping)no35i33pu33plei33pla33kju53ŋi22jaːt21du21sjəp21
Kim Muna33i35ˀpɔ35pjei35pja35kjo35ȵi42jet55du33ʃap42
Biao Mini33wəi33pau33pləi33pla33klɔ53ni42hjɛn42iu31ȶʰan42
Chao Kong Meng (Shikou)ji35vi33bɔu33pli33pla53klɔ35ŋi13jæ22tɕu55tɕæ22
Moxi (Niuweizhai)i33wei33pəu33pɣɯi33pɤa33kɤɔ55ɕi31hjɯ53du53tɕʰwa53
Dzao Mina44vi42bu42pɛi42pjɛ42tɔu44ȵi22dzat22ku53sjɛp22

See also

Related Research Articles

Yao people

The Yao people is a government classification for various minorities in China and Vietnam. They are one of the 55 officially recognised ethnic minorities in China and reside in the mountainous terrain of the southwest and south. They also form one of the 54 ethnic groups officially recognised by Vietnam. In China in the last census in 2000, they numbered 2,637,421 and in Vietnam census in 2019, they numbered 891,151.

Biao Mon is a Mienic language of Guangxi province, China. It is spoken in Lipu, Mengshan, Pingle, and Zhaoping counties in Guangxi, China.

Mojiang Hani Autonomous County Autonomous county in Yunnan, Peoples Republic of China

Mojiang Hani Autonomous County is an autonomous county under the jurisdiction of Pu'er City, in the south of Yunnan Province, China.

Jinping Miao, Yao, and Dai Autonomous County Autonomous county in Yunnan, Peoples Republic of China

Jinping Miao, Yao, and Dai Autonomous County is located in Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan province, China, bordering Vietnam's Lai Châu Province to the south. Jinping is home to the Red-headed Yao (红头瑶族) minority group who wear a pointed red hat on their heads after they get married.

Funing County, Yunnan County in Yunnan, Peoples Republic of China

Funing County is located in Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, in the east of Yunnan province, China. It is the easternmost county-level division of Yunnan, bordering Guangxi to the north, east and southeast, and Vietnam's Hà Giang Province to the south.

Malipo County County in Yunnan, Peoples Republic of China

Malipo County is under the administration of the Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, in the southeast of Yunnan province, China, bordering Ha Giang Province to the southeast.

Quanzhou County County in Guangxi, Peoples Republic of China

Quanzhou County is a county in the northeast of Guangxi, China, bordering Hunan province to the north and east. It is under the administration of Guilin City. Quanzhou is the biggest county in Guilin both in size and in population, and contains the northernmost point of Guangxi. The dialect of here belongs to the Xiang Chinese.

Guanyang County County in Guangxi, Peoples Republic of China

Guanyang County is a county in the northeast of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China, bordering Hunan province to the east. It is under the administration of Guilin city.

Jinxiu Yao Autonomous County County in Guangxi, Peoples Republic of China

Jinxiu is a county of eastern Guangxi, China, located in an area of relatively high concentrations of the Yao people. It is administered as the Jinxiu Yao Autonomous County of Laibin City. Established in 1952, with the name of Dayaoshan Autonomous Zone, in 1966, it was renamed as Jinxiu Yao Autonomous County. It has an area of 2,517 square kilometres (972 sq mi), much of it mountainous, and a population in 2004 of approximately 150,000.

The Lakkia language, also spelled Lakkja, is a Kra–Dai language spoken in Jinxiu Yao Autonomous County, Laibin, East-Central Guangxi, China.

Proto-Hmong–Mien is the reconstructed ancestor of the Hmong–Mien languages. Lower-level reconstructions include Proto-Hmongic and Proto-Mienic.

Pa-Hng is a divergent Hmongic (Miao) language spoken in Guizhou, Guangxi, and Hunan in southern China as well as northern Vietnam.

Bu-Nao, or Bunu proper, is a Hmongic (Miao) dialect cluster spoken in Guangxi, Yunnan, and Guizhou in China. Its speakers are among the Bunu : ethnic Yao (Mien) speakers of Miao languages.

Lalo is a Loloish language cluster spoken in western Yunnan, China by 300,000 speakers. Speakers are officially part of the Yi nationality, and Chinese linguists refer to it as "Western Yi" due to its distribution in western Yunnan. Lalo speakers are mostly located in southern Dali Prefecture, especially Weishan County, considered the traditional homeland of the Lalo. Historically, this area is the home of the Meng clan, who ruled the Nanzhao Kingdom (737–902 CE). Many speakers of Core Lalo dialects claim to be descendants of the Meng clan.

Tai Hongjin is a Tai language of southern China. Dialects may not be mutually intelligible.

Biao Min, or Biao-Jiao Mien, is a Hmong–Mien language of China. The two varieties, Biao Min and Jiaogong Mian, are evidently not mutually intelligible.

Dzao Min, is a Hmong–Mien language of China. Mao (2004:306) reports a total of more than 60,000 speakers in Liannan County and Yangshan County of Guangdong, and in Yizhang County of Hunan. The speakers from Bapai, Guangdong are also called Bapai Yao (八排瑶族).

Cao Miao is a variety of Dong (Kam) according to Shi Lin (2012). Dialects include Liushi ("Sixty") Miao 六十苗, Sishi ("Forty") Miao 四十苗, and Ershi ("Twenty") Miao 二十苗. The Flowery Miao 花苗 do not consider themselves to be Cao Miao 草苗, although their language is similar to Sixty Miao and Forty Miao.

The Hani languages are a group of closely related but distinct languages of the Loloish (Yi) branch of the Tibeto-Burman linguistic group. They are also referred to as the Hanoid languages by Lama (2012) and as the Akoid languages by Bradley (2007).

Nuobi is a Loloish language of south-central Yunnan, China.


  1. Ratliff, Martha. 2010. Hmong–Mien language history. Canberra, Australia: Pacific Linguistics.
  2. Strecker, David. 1987. "The Hmong-Mien Languages." In Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area, 10 , no. 2: 1-11.
  3. Luang-Thongkum, Theraphan. 1993. A view on Proto-Mjuenic (Yao). Mon-Khmer Studies 22:163-230.
  4. location not found on map
  5. http://www.ynszxc.gov.cn/villagePage/vIndex.aspx?departmentid=153644
  6. http://www.ynszxc.gov.cn/villagePage/vIndex.aspx?departmentid=215068
  7. Tang Yongliang 唐永亮. 1994. 瑶族勉语六冲标曼话语音特点和声调实验研究. Minzu Yuwen 1994:5.
  8. Aumann, Greg and Paul Sidwell. 2004. "Subgrouping of Mienic Languages: Some Observations." In Papers from the Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society, edited by Somsonge Burusphat. Tempe, Arizona, 13-27. Arizona State University, Program for Southeast Asian Studies.
  9. Yoshihisa Taguchi [田口善久] (2012). On the Phylogeny of the Hmong-Mien languages Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine . Conference in Evolutionary Linguistics 2012.
  10. Hsiu, Andrew. 2018. Preliminary classification of Mienic languages.
  11. Cited in Chiang (1995) We two know the script, we have become good friends, p. 28, footnote 43.
  12. http://lingweb.eva.mpg.de/numeral/Miao-Yao.htm

Further reading

Sources with word lists of Mienic languages