Pronunciationla21 wu21
Native toChina
Native speakers
50 (2012)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3lwu

Lawu (autonym: la21 wu21)[2] is a highly endangered unclassified Loloish language of Yunnan, China. It has about 50 elderly speakers in Jiuha village 旧哈村,[3] Shuitang district 水塘镇, Xinping County, Yuxi Prefecture, Yunnan Province. There are possibly also some speakers in Jiujia District 九甲乡, Zhenyuan County, Pu'er Prefecture, Yunnan Province.[2] Lawu speakers are currently classified by the Chinese government as Lahu, but were formerly classified as Yi.


Cathryn Yang (2012)[4] suggests that Lawu is most likely a Central Ngwi language, but notes that it does not classify with Lalo, Lahu, or the Lisoid (Lisu, Lipo, Lolopo) languages.

Andrew Hsiu (2017)[5] suggests that Lawu is related to Awu of Xiaopingzi 小坪子, Daping Township 大坪乡, Yuanyang County, Yunnan, China,[6] which is documented in Lu & Lu (2011).[7] Together, Lawu and Awu form a Lawu or Lawoish language branch. The linguistic evidence suggests that the ancestors of the Awu had migrated down the Red River valley from further up northwest, and arrived at their present location after migrating downstream.

Lewu, which is currently extinct, may have been related to Lawu, but classification is uncertain due to the paucity of data.


  1. ^ Lawu at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b Yang (2011) (ISO 639-3 documentation)
  3. ^ "新平县水塘镇旧哈村民委员会". Retrieved 2017-12-30.
  4. ^ Yang, Cathryn. 2012. Phonology sketch and classification of Lawu, an undocumented Ngwi language of Yunnan. In Linguistic Discovery, Volume 10, Issue 2, Year 2012. Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College. doi:10.1349/PS1.1537-0852.A.410
  5. ^ Hsiu, Andrew. 2017. The Lawu languages: footprints along the Red River valley corridor.
  6. ^ "元阳县大坪乡大坪村委会小坪子村". Retrieved 2017-12-30.
  7. ^ Lu Peng 卢鹏; Lu Wei 路伟. 2011. 国际哈尼/阿卡区域文化调查: 中国元阳县大坪哈尼族阿邬人文化实录. Kunming: Yunnan People's Press 云南人民出版社. ISBN 978-7-222-07999-1