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).
Approximately 1.5 million people speak these languages, mainly in China, Laos, Burma (Myanmar), and Vietnam; more than 90% of the speakers of these languages live in China. Various ethnicities that use Hani languages are grouped into a single class recognized nationality named Hani after the largest subgroup. In China, the languages of this group—which include Hani proper, Akha, and Hao-Bai (Honi and Baihong)—are considered dialects (Chinese: fangyan 方言). Western scholars, however, have traditionally classified them as separate languages.
In China, Akha and other related languages are considered to be derivatives of Hani. They are not mutually intelligible, which means that speakers of one language do not necessarily understand speakers of the other language. In 2007, according to Ethnologue, there were almost 1.5 million speakers of all Hani varieties. Slightly more than half (760,000) of these speakers can speak Hani properly (considering age etc.).
Lama (2012) groups the principal varieties of the Hani languages identified by Bradley (2007) as follows: Yunnan locations and speaker populations are from Haniyu Jianzhi 哈尼语简志 according to information from 1986.
Ha-Ya 哈雅 had 850,000 speakers in 1982. The representative dialect is Dazhai 大寨 and is spoken in Lüchun County.
Hani 哈尼 (autonym: xa21 ni21; orthography: "Haqniqdoq") has 520,000 speakers in south-central Yunnan, China and 12,500 speakers in Vietnam. In Yunnan is spoken in Honghe, Yuanyang, Lüchun, and Jinping counties.
Akha 阿卡 a.k.a. Yani 雅尼 (ritual autonym: za21 ni21; orthography: "Aqkaqdoq") has 550,000 speakers: 250,000 in China, 220,000 in Burma, 35,000 in northern Thailand, and 35,000 in northern Laos. In Yunnan, China it is spoken in Sipsongpanna. Representative dialect is Gelanghe Township 格朗和哈尼族乡, Menghai County.
Muda 木达 has over 2,000 speakers in Nanlianshan township 南联山乡, Jinghong City, Yunnan, China (Xu 1991).
Hao-Bai 豪白: 210,000 speakers in Mojiang, Yuanjiang, and Pu'er counties. Representative dialect: Shuigui 水癸, Mojiang County.
Haoni 豪尼 a.k.a. Honi (autonym: xɒ21 ni21) has 120,000 speakers.
Baihong 白宏 (autonym: pɤ31 xɔ̃31) has 60,000 speakers.
David Bradley (2007) considers the Hani-Akha (Ha-Ya) and Haoni-Baihong (Hao-Bai) languages to be part of an Akoid subgroup.
In China, all of the Bi-Ka languages (Chinese: 碧卡) are considered to form a single Hani dialect cluster (Chinese: 方言fangyan), and the speakers are officially classified as ethnic Hani (Haniyu Jianzhi 哈尼语简志 1986). Recognized dialects include Biyue 碧约 (autonym: bi31jɔ31), Kaduo 卡多, and Enu 峨努. In Yunnan, China, they are spoken in Mojiang, Jiangcheng, Jingdong, and other counties, with a total of 370,000 speakers. The representative dialect is that of Caiyuan 菜园, Mojiang County.
Biyue 碧约: Caiyuan Township, Mojiang County dialect 墨江菜园乡土语
Kaduo 卡多: Minxing Township, Mojiang County dialect 墨江民兴乡土语
Enu 哦怒: Dazhai, Yayi Township, Mojiang County dialect 墨江雅邑大寨土语
In China, Hani languages are spoken mostly in areas east of the Mekong River in the south-central Yunnan province, concentrated in the Pu'er and Honghe prefectures as well as in parts of other surrounding prefectures. Hani is also spoken in Lai Châu Province of northwestern Vietnam, northern Laos, and Shan State of northeastern Burma.
Edmondson (2002) reports that the Hani of Vietnam is distributed in 2 provinces of northwestern Vietnam. The earliest Hani pioneers to Vietnam probably numbered around 5 to 6 families, and arrived in Mường Tè District from Jinping County and Lüchun County in Yunnan about 325 years ago. The Hani of Phong Thổ District and Bát Xát District arrived later, about 175 years ago from Yunnan. The Hani of Vietnam claim to be able to communicate in the Hani language with ethnic Hani from different areas of Vietnam despite significant geographical barriers. Edmondson (2002), however, reported different Hani speech varieties in various parts of northwestern Vietnam, which differ mostly lexically.
Tang Mingsheng (2011, ed.) contains word lists and ethnographies of Hani subgroups. There are 12 books in the Regional Culture Investigation of International Hani/Aka (国际哈尼/阿卡区域文化调查) series edited by Tang.
Tang Mingsheng 唐明生. 2011. 国际哈尼/阿卡区域文化调查: 中国元阳县马街哈尼族郭合人文化实录. Kunming: Yunnan People's Press 云南人民出版社. ISBN978-7-222-07409-5 (Guohe 郭合 people of Dengqu Village, Majie Township, Yuanjiang County 元阳县马街乡登去村)
Tang Mingsheng 唐明生. 2011. 国际哈尼/阿卡区域文化调查: 中国金平县哈尼田哈尼族罗比·罗们人文化实录. Kunming: Yunnan People's Press 云南人民出版社. ISBN978-7-222-08436-0 (Nuobi 罗比 and Nuomei 罗们 people of Hanitian 哈尼田, Jinhe Town 金河镇, Jinping County)
Tang Mingsheng 唐明生. 2011. 国际哈尼/阿卡区域文化调查: 中国金平县普角哈尼族果作人文化实录. Kunming: Yunnan People's Press 云南人民出版社. ISBN978-7-222-08435-3 (Guozuo 果作 people of Pujiao 普角, Jinshuihe Town 金水河镇, Jinping County)
Tang Mingsheng 唐明生. 2011. 国际哈尼/阿卡区域文化调查: 中国勐海县格朗和哈尼族阿卡人文化实录. Kunming: Yunnan People's Press 云南人民出版社. ISBN978-7-222-07410-1 (Akha 阿卡 people of Suhu Dazhai, Suhu Village, Gelanghe Township, Menghai County 勐海县格朗和乡苏湖村民委员会苏湖大寨自然村)
Bradley, David. 2007. East and Southeast Asia. In Moseley, Christopher (ed.), Encyclopedia of the World's Endangered Languages, 349-424. London & New York: Routledge.
Edmondson, Jerold A. 2002. "The Central and Southern Loloish Languages of Vietnam". Proceedings of the Twenty-Eighth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society: Special Session on Tibeto-Burman and Southeast Asian Linguistics (2002), pp. 1–13.
Lewis, Paul W.; Bai, Bibo (1996). Haqniqdoq-yilyidoq, Doqlo-Soqdaoq [Hani-english/english-hani Dictionary]. London: Kegan Paul International in association with the International Institute for Asian Studies.