Bai, Central

A language of China

ISO 639-3: bca
 

Population 800,000 (2003).
Region Northwest Yunnan, Jianchuan, Heqing, Lanping, Eryuan, and Yunlong.
Alternate names   Pai, Minjia, Minchia, Minkia, Labbu, Nama, Leme
Dialects Jianchuan, Heqing, Lanping, Eryuan, Yunlong.
Classification Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Bai
Language use Vigorous. All domains. All ages. Positive language attitude. Some others also speak Chinese. A few also speak Lisu, Nu, and Naxi.
Language development Literacy rate in second language: 70%. Roman script. Poetry. Radio programs. Dictionary. Grammar.
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Part of the Bai nationality. Classification difficult because of heavy borrowing (60% to 70%) from Chinese. It is considered to be genetically related to Chinese, or a mixed language with Chinese, or related to Yi, or an independent branch of Tibeto-Burman. An old script dates from the 8th century, called 'Bowen' or 'Lao Baiwen', based on Chinese characters, but this was never standardized. SVO; attributives precede noun heads; number classifier constructions follow noun heads; tense-lax vowel distinction; tonal, 5 to 8 tones. Mountain slope, valleys, plateau. 2,000 meters and higher. Agriculturalists: wet rice, maize, broad bean, wheat; traders; craftsmen. Polytheist, Buddhist, Daoist.