Western Yi
Native toChina
Native speakers
320,000 (2002–2010)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3Variously:
ywt – Xishanba (Central)
yik – Dongshanba (Eastern, Western, East Mountain Central)
yit – Eastern
ywl – Western
ELPCentral Lalo

Lalo (Chinese: 腊罗; Western Yi) is a Loloish language cluster spoken in western Yunnan, China by 300,000 speakers. Speakers are officially part of the Yi nationality, and Chinese linguists refer to it as "Western Yi" due to its distribution in western Yunnan. Lalo speakers are mostly located in southern Dali Prefecture, especially Weishan County, considered the traditional homeland of the Lalo.[2] Historically, this area is the home of the Meng clan, who ruled the Nanzhao Kingdom (737–902 CE).[3] Many speakers of Core Lalo dialects claim to be descendants of the Meng clan.[3]


Many Lalo are referred to by the exonym Menghua (蒙化), a name used during the Yuan Dynasty to refer to an area comprising modern-day Weishan County and Nanjian County (Yang 2010:12). They are also referred to as Tujia (土家) people (Yunnan 1956:14-15).[4]

David Bradley (2007)[5] refers to the Lalo language cluster, which includes the Samatu language of Zhenkang County and Yongde County, as Laloid.


Cathryn Yang (2010) gives the following demographic information for various Lalo languages. Combined, speakers of Lalo languages number fewer than 300,000 people.

Wang & Zhao (2013), citing Chen, et al. (1985),[11] divide Western Yi (彝语西部方言) into two dialects, namely Dongshan and Xishan.[12] In Lincang Prefecture, Western Yi speakers number approximately 30,000 people and have the autonyms la21 lo33 pɑ21 and mi13 sa21 pa21.

In Jianxing Township 建兴乡, Xinping County, Yunnan, Lalu 腊鲁 is spoken in the two administrative villages of Malutang 马鹿塘 and Mowei 磨味 by about 3,000 people (Wang 2011:11,20).[13]

Lalu 腊鲁 (exonyms: Xiangtang 香堂 and Luoluo 罗罗) is also spoken in Sipsongpanna, including in Xiangmeng 象明乡, Yiwu 易武乡, Mengpeng 勐捧镇, and Jinghong 景洪市 townships.[16]

Yunnan (1979)[17] mentions the Datou 达头 of Pu'er and Simao (population: 254 as of 1960) as having traditions and festivals similar to those of the Yi people of Weishan County, who are mostly Lalo speakers.

The Aciga 阿次嘎 of Lancang County reside in Yakou Township 雅口乡[18] and Nanxian Township 南现乡[19] (now Nuozhadu Town 糯扎渡镇). They numbered 50 as of 1960.[17] 100 years ago, they had migrated from Niujian Mountain 牛肩山, Zhenyue County 镇越县 (now renamed as Mengla County), and had spoken a different language that is now extinct. They now speak Chinese and "Yi" (presumably Lalo, as the Yi dialects of Lancang are mostly Lalo). Aciga is an exonym, as the Aciga do not have an autonym.


Lama (2012) splits Laluba into three dialects.


A recent dialectological survey by Cathryn Yang (2010)[3] shows that the Lalo cluster comprises at least 7 closely related languages. Three of these (Eastern, Western, and Central) constitute the Core Lalo group and are located in the traditional Lalo homeland of southern Dali Prefecture. There are also four peripheral languages, Mangdi, Eka, Yangliu, and Xuzhang, whose ancestors migrated out of the Lalo homeland at different times.

All Lalo languages show a reflex of the Proto-Lalo autonym *la2lo̠Hpa̠L; i.e. the name that the Proto-Lalo called themselves are still preserved in the various modern Lalo languages. Eka speakers’ autonym is now o21 kʰa24, but elderly speakers report that their more archaic autonym is la21 lu̠33 po̠21 (Yang 2010).

Yang's (2010:209) phylogenetic tree of Lalo is as follows.

Alu may also be a peripheral Lalo language, but this is uncertain due to limited data.[20]



Labial Alveolar (Alveolo-)
Retroflex Velar Glottal
Stop voiceless p t k (ʔ)
voiced b d ɡ
Affricate voiceless t͡s (t͡ɕ) t͡ʂ
aspirated t͡sʰ (t͡ɕʰ) t͡ʂʰ
voiced d͡z (d͡ʑ) d͡ʐ
Fricative voiceless (f) s (ɕ) ʂ x h [h̃]
voiced v z (ʑ) ʐ ɣ (ɦ)
glottalized ʔv
Nasal voiced m n ɲ ŋ
glottalized ʔm ʔn (ʔɲ)
Approximant central w (j)
lateral l
glottalized ʔl


Central Lalo vowels
Front Central Back
unrd. rnd. unrd. rnd.
Close i y ɨ [ɨ̠] u
Mid ɛ [ɛ̠] ø [ø̠] ə [ə̠] o []
Open ɑ [a̠]
Western Lalo vowels
Front Central Back
unrd. rnd. unrd. rnd.
Close i [iɛ] y [yɛ] ɨ u
Mid ɛ ø [øɛ] (ə) o
Open a (ɐ) ɑ
Western Lalo nasal vowels and syllabics
Nasal Syllabic
Front Central
unrd. rnd.
Close ĩ ɨ̃
Mid ɛ̃ ŋ̍
Open ã


The following are the tones in Central and Western Lalo:

Central Lalo tones
Name Pitch Symbol
High 55 ˦
High-rising 45 ˦˩
Mid 33 ˧
Mid, harsh 33 ˧̠
Low, harsh 31 ˨̠
Low, breathy 22 ˨̤
Western Lalo tones
Name Pitch Symbol
Mid-high 44 ˧˦
Low-rising 24 ˨˩
Low 21 ˨
Mid 33 ˧
High 55 ˦

See also

Further reading


  1. ^ Xishanba (Central) at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Dongshanba (Eastern, Western, East Mountain Central) at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Eastern at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Western at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Yang, Cathryn. 2009. Regional variation in Lalo: Beyond east and west. La Trobe Papers in Linguistics, 12.
  3. ^ a b c Yang, Cathryn. 2010. Lalo regional varieties: Phylogeny, dialectometry, and sociolinguistics. Melbourne: La Trobe University PhD dissertation.
  4. ^ Yunnan provincial ethnic classification research unit [云南省民族识别研究组]. 1956. Preliminary summary of ethnic classifications in Yunnan province: no. 1, 2 [云南省民族识别研究第一、二阶段初步总结]. Beijing: Central University for Nationalities Research Institute 中央民族学院.
  5. ^ Bradley, David. 2007. East and Southeast Asia. In Moseley, Christopher (ed.), Encyclopedia of the World's Endangered Languages, 349-424. London & New York: Routledge.
  6. ^ "双江拉祜族佤族布朗族傣族自治县勐勐镇那布社区彝家新村自然村". Retrieved 2017-12-30.
  7. ^ "耿马傣族佤族自治县贺派乡芒底村民委员会". Retrieved 2017-12-30.
  8. ^ "耿马傣族佤族自治县贺派乡芒底村民委员会芒底自然村". Retrieved 2017-12-30.
  9. ^ "隆阳区瓦房彝族苗族乡徐掌村委会". Retrieved 2017-12-30.
  10. ^ "隆阳区瓦房彝族苗族乡徐掌村委会徐掌". Retrieved 2017-12-30.
  11. ^ Chen Shilin [陈士林], et al. 1985. Yiyu jianzhi [彝语简志]. Beijing: Ethnic Publishing House [民族出版社].
  12. ^ Wang Xingzhong [王兴中] & Zhao Weihua [赵卫华]. 2013. Geography and multilingualism in Lincang [临沧地理与双语使用]. Kunming: Yunnan People's Press [云南人民出版社]. ISBN 978-7-222-08581-7
  13. ^ Wang Guoxu [王国旭]. 2011. A study of Lalu Yi of Xinping County [新平彝语腊鲁话研究]. Ph.D. dissertation. Beijing: Minzu University.
  14. ^ "新平县建兴乡马鹿村民委员会". Retrieved 2017-12-30.
  15. ^ "新平县建兴乡磨味村民委员会". Retrieved 2017-12-30.
  16. ^ "_彝学研究网 | 走进云南西双版纳州勐腊县象明彝族乡". Retrieved 2017-12-30.
  17. ^ a b Yunnan minzu shibie zonghe diaocha zubian 云南民族识别综合调查组编 (1979). Yunnan minzu shibie zonghe diaocha baogao (1960 nian) 云南民族识别综合调查报告(1960年). Kunming: Yunnan minzuxue yanjiu suoyin 云南民族学研究所印.
  18. ^ 澜沧拉祜族自治县糯扎渡镇雅口村
  19. ^ 澜沧拉祜族自治县糯扎渡镇南现村
  20. ^ Hsiu, Andrew. 2017. The Lawu languages: footprints along the Red River valley corridor.
  21. ^ a b Yang, Cathryn (2015). Lalo dialects across time and space: subgrouping, dialectometry, and intelligibility. Asia-Pacific Linguistics, 22: Canberra: Australian National University.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location (link)