A language of China

ISO 639-3: lic

Population 667,000 (1999 Ouyang Jueya). 160,000 monolinguals (24% of population—10% children and 14% adults). 432,000 Ha, 178,000 Qi, 52,000 Jiamao, 44,000 Bendi, 30,000 Meifu (1990 census).
Region Mountains in central and south central Hainan Province, southern China.
Alternate names   Li, Dai, Day, Lai, La, Loi, Le, Dli, Bli, Klai, Slai
Dialects Ha (Luohua-Hayan-Baoxian), Qi (Gei, Tongshi-Qiandui-Baocheng), Meifu (Moifau), Bendi (Zwn, Baisha-Yuanmen). Divided into 5 groups: Ha Li, Meifu Li, Qi Li, Local Li, Detou Li. Some varieties listed as dialects may be separate languages. J. Matisoff lists 8 varieties: Baoding, Xifang, Tongshi, Baisha, Qiandiu, Heitu, Yuanmen, Baocheng. Luowo speech of Ha dialect is considered to be the standard. Lexical similarity 30% with Northern Zhuang, 27% with Gelo, 26% with Dong and Laqua, 25% with Lati, 23% with Buyang.
Classification Tai-Kadai, Hlai
Language use Vigorous. Some Chinese living in the area can also speak Hlai. All domains. All ages. Positive language attitude. Bilinguals use Chinese as second language. A few also speak Mien or Zhuang. Spoken and written Chinese in common use. Mandarin used in secondary schools.
Language development Literacy rate in second language: 54%. Roman script. Dictionary.


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Part of the Li nationality. Traditional culture. Mountain slope, coastal. Tropical forest. Agriculturalists: rice, coconut, betel nut, sisal, hemp, lemon grass, cocoa, coffee, rubber, palm oil; textiles; traditionally hunters. Polytheist.