Pronunciationpɔ33 lju13
Native toChina
RegionLonglin County, Guangxi
EthnicityBolyu1,800 (2007)[1]
Native speakers
500 (2007)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3ply

The Bolyu language (autonym: pɔ33 lju13; Chinese: 巴琉语, 布流语; also known as Paliu, Palyu, or Lai 俫语, 徕语) is an Austroasiatic language of the Pakanic branch.[2] The Bolyu are among the unrecognized ethnic groups of China.


Bolyu is related to the Bugan language, forming the Pakanic branch along with it. In 1984, Bolyu was first studied by Liang Min of the Nationalities Research Institute in Beijing. Liang was the first to suggest a Mon–Khmer affiliation of Bolyu, which was later confirmed by Western linguists such as Paul K. Benedict, Paul Sidwell, and Jerold A. Edmondson. However, the place of the Pakanic branch within the Mon–Khmer family is uncertain. Sidwell (1995) suggests that the Pakanic branch may be an Eastern Mon–Khmer branch, thus making it most closely related to the Vietic branch. However, Gérard Diffloth classifies Pakanic as Northern Mon–Khmer, making it most closely related to the Palaungic branch.[3]


Bolyu speakers are found in the following locations in southern China.[4][5][6]

Li (1999) documents the Bolyu variety of Muzitun 亩子屯, Xinhe Village 新合村, Changfa Township 长发乡, Longlin County, Guangxi.

In the following villages, only elderly speakers of Bolyu remain.

1,400 Bolyu reside in Guangxi, and over 1,000 in Yunnan.[7]


Bolyu is a monosyllabic tonal language like the surrounding Tai–Kadai, Hmong-Mien and even Vietic languages. Unlike Bugan, Bolyu does not have a tense–lax voice quality distinction.

Initial consonants

Labial Alveolar Alveolo-
Velar Uvular Glottal
plain pal. vel. plain pal. plain pal. lab. plain pal.
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t k q ʔ
aspirated pʰʲ tʰʲ
prenasalized ᵐb ᵐbʲ ⁿd
Affricate voiceless t͡s
aspirated t͡sʰ tɕʰ
Fricative v s    ɬ ɬʲ ɕ ɣ ɣʲ h
Approximant w l j


Bolyu has a total of six tones.[8]

Bolyu Tones
Tone number Tone contour
1 ˥
2 ˧
3 ˩
4 ˥˧
5 ˧˩
6 ˩˧

There are seven vowels in Bolyu:[9] /a, e, ə, i, o, ɔ, u/.

Bolyu allows for a large variety of consonant clusters, and has eight possible consonantal finals:[10] -p, -t, -k, -m, -n, -ŋ, -w, -j.


  1. ^ a b Bolyu at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Sidwell (1995)
  3. ^ Van Driem, George (2007). "Austroasiatic Phylogeny and the Austroasiatic Homeland in Light of Recent Population Genetic Studies" (PDF). Mon-Khmer Studies. 37: 1–14. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-08-09. Retrieved 2011-02-26.
  4. ^ Edmondson (1995)
  5. ^ 俫语使用人口稳定增长原因探究
  6. ^ Li (1999)
  7. ^ a b c Guangxi Minority Languages Orthography Committee (2008). Guǎngxī mínzú yǔyán fāng yīn cíhuì 广西民族语言方音词汇 [Vocabularies of Guangxi Ethnic Languages] (in Chinese). Beijing: Minzu chubanshe.
  8. ^ Edmondson (1995)
  9. ^ Edmondson (1995)
  10. ^ Sidwell (1995)