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Ei, Wuse
Kjang E
RegionGuangxi, China
Native speakers
5,000 (2016)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3eee
Guangxi, of which E is spoken in a small area
Wuse is classified as Vulnerable by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger

E (IPA: 55]), Ei or Wuse/Wusehua (simplified Chinese: 五色话; traditional Chinese: 五色話; pinyin: Wǔsèhuà; lit. 'Colored Language') is a TaiChinese mixed language spoken primarily in Rongshui Miao Autonomous County, Guangxi, China. It contains features of both Tai and Chinese varieties, generally adopting Chinese vocabulary into Tai grammar. E is a tonal language—distinguishing between seven tones—and contains a few rare phonemes: voiceless versions of the more common nasal consonants and alveolar lateral approximant.


The E language's unusual name, which is also an autonym, derives from the pinyin transliteration of the rare Mandarin syllable ; ; ê (IPA: 55]), which conventionally denotes an expression of affirmation (and is distinguished from the usual pronunciation of e by the use of a circumflex).[2][3] The language's speakers also refer to their language as Kjang E [kiaŋ55 ɛ55].[2] Wusehua is a derogatory name for E.[4]

Geographical distribution

Zhuang people in Guilin

In 1992, E was spoken by about 30,000 people,[5][2] but by 2008 this number had dwindled to 9,000.[6] Gao (2016) reported that there were 5,000 speakers of E.[1] Most E speakers are classified as Zhuang by the Chinese government. E speakers live in Rongshui Miao Autonomous County and border areas of Luocheng Mulao Autonomous County in Guangxi. In Rongshui County, the three main villages inhabited by E speakers are Xiatan 下覃村, Simo 四莫村, and Xinglong 兴隆村 in Yongle Township 永乐乡.[1] E speakers' most commonly spoken other languages are the Liujia dialect (六甲话) of Yue Chinese and the Guiliu variant of Southwestern Mandarin.[1]


E's consonant and vowel inventories are mostly similar to those of its parent languages. However, it contains a few unusual consonants: the voiceless nasal consonants [], [ŋ̥], [], and the voiceless alveolar lateral approximant []. All are voiceless versions of consonants that, in most languages, are always voiced. E allows syllabic consonants and diphthongs.[6]

E consonants
Labial Dental/
Palatal Velar Glottal
plain sibilant plain labialized
Nasal voiced m n ŋ
voiceless ŋ̥
Plosive unaspirated p t t͡s k
aspirated t͡sʰ
Fricative f s ɕ h
Approximant voiced l j w
E vowels
Front Central Back
Close i y u
Mid e ə o
Open ɛ a

Like most Southeast Asian languages, including Tai and the varieties of Chinese, E is tonal.[7] The language is described as having seven tones, with the seventh varying allophonically with the length of the vowel it is attached to. With numbers ranging from 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest tone and 5 the highest, the contours of the various tones in E are as follows.[6]

Tone contours
Number Contour Tone letter
1. 42 ˦˨
2. 231 ˨˧˩
3. 44 ˦
4. 35 ˧˥
5. 24 ˨˦
6. 55 ˥
7. short 24 ˨˦
long 22 ˨

Grammar and lexicon

E is usually classified as a mixed language deriving ultimately from the Tai-Kadai and Sino-Tibetan families, which both inhabit southern China and Southeast Asia.[4] Some non-Chinese scholars, however, consider it a Tai-Kadai language with Chinese influence.[8] Whatever its classification, the grammar resembles that of the Tai branch of Tai-Kadai. E's grammatical features appear to be a mix of Northern Zhuang, Mulam, and Kam.[1][7] The Caolan language of Vietnam also displays many similarities with E.[7]

The vocabulary, however, is mostly Chinese, based on Guiliu and the Tuguai variant of Pinghua.[1][7] Out of the 2,000 most commonly used E words, only about 200 are of Tai-Kadai origin.[9] E also inherits elements of these Chinese dialects' phonology and compound word formation.[1] E morphology is primarily analytic, with concepts such as negation expressed with auxiliary words (pat6, m2) and no pronominal agreement.[6]

In its pronouns, E distinguishes for person between first, second, and third; in number between singular and plural; and, in the case of the first-person plural, between inclusive and exclusive we. E does not, however, make distinctions for grammatical gender.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Gao, Huan 高欢. 2016. Guangxi Ronghsui Aihua yanjiu 广西融水诶话研究. Beijing: Chinese Social Sciences Academy Press 中国社会科学出版社.
  2. ^ a b c Edmondson 1992, p. 138.
  3. ^ Unihan Database 1991.
  4. ^ a b Encyclopedia of Linguistics 2003, p. 207.
  5. ^ E language at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  6. ^ a b c d e Greenhill, Blust & Gray 2008.
  7. ^ a b c d Edmondson 1992, pp. 135–144.
  8. ^ Moseley 2012, p. 72.
  9. ^ Sun, Hu & Huang 2007, pp. 2596–2620.


  • Edmondson, Jerold A. (1992). "Fusion and Diffusion in E, Guangxi Province, China". In Dutton, Tom; Ross, Malcolm; Tyron, Darrell (eds.). The Language Game: Papers in Memory of Donald C. Laycock. Canberra: Australian National University. pp. 135–144. hdl:1885/145788.
  • Gao, Huan 高欢. 2016. Guangxi Ronghsui Aihua yanjiu 广西融水诶话研究. Beijing: Chinese Social Sciences Academy Press 中国社会科学出版社.
  • Greenhill, S. J.; Blust, R.; Gray, R. D. (2008). "The Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database: From Bioinformatics to Lexomics – Language: Wusehua (Rongshui)". University of Auckland. Archived from the original on 2017-04-13. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  • Sun, Hongkai 孙宏开; Hu, Zengyi 胡增益; Huang, Xing 黄行, eds. (2007). Zhōngguó de yǔyán 中国的语言 [The Languages of China] (in Chinese). Shangwu yinshuguan. ISBN 978-7100043632.
  • Moseley, Christopher (2012). Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger. UNESCO Publishing. ISBN 978-0-956-60524-5.
  • International Encyclopedia of Linguistics: AAVE–Esperanto. Vol. 1. Oxford University Press. 2003. ISBN 978-0-195-16783-2.
  • "Unihan Data for U+8A92". Retrieved November 23, 2014.
  • Wei, Maofan 韦茂繁 (2011). 五色话研究 [A Study of Wusehua] (in Chinese). Beijing Shi: Minzu chubanshe. ISBN 978-7-105-11365-1.