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Burma and Bangladesh
Linguistic classificationSino-Tibetan

The Luish, Asakian, or Sak languages are a group of Sino-Tibetan languages belonging to the Sal branch. They are spoken in Burma and Bangladesh, and consist of the Sak, Kadu, and Ganan languages. In recent years, Luish languages have been influenced by Burmese and Chakma.

Although Luish languages are now widely scattered and spoken by relatively small populations, Luce (1985) suggests that the Luish languages were “once spread over the whole north of Burma, from Manipur perhaps to northern Yunnan.”

Matisoff (2013)[1] proposes the name Asakian, since Lui or Loi were used by the Meithei to refer to slaves. Although many speakers of Luish languages refer to themselves as Sak, Cak, or similar variations, speakers of Ganan and Mokhwang Kadu do not refer to themselves as Sak or Asak.[2]

Extinct languages

Matisoff (2013)[1] has demonstrated that the extinct Andro, Sengmai, and Chairel languages of Manipur are also Luish languages.

Andro, Sengmai, and Chairel are extinct and known only from a glossary recorded in 1859, their speakers having switched to Meitei.[3][4] There are also various unattested varieties of Lui or Loi ('serf') mentioned in nineteenth-century accounts that appear to be Luish varieties.[5]

It is uncertain whether the extinct Pyu language of central Myanmar is a Luish language.

Benedict (1972) and Shafer (1974) had classified the extinct Taman language of northern Myanmar as part of the Luish branch, but it has since been shown by Keisuke Huziwara (2016) to be a non-Luish language, possibly a separate branch of Tibeto-Burman.


Matisoff (2013),[1] citing Huziwara (2012),[6] provides the following Stammbaum classification for the Asakian (Luish) branch.


Huziwara (2020) merges Sengmai, Andro, and Chairel as varieties of Chakpa.[2]


Proto-Luish has been reconstructed by Huziwara (2012),[6] with additional Proto-Luish lexical reconstructions by Matisoff (2013).[1] Like Proto-Austroasiatic and Jingpho, Proto-Luish has a sesquisyllabic syllable structure.

Proto-Luish reconstructions by Huziwara (2012),[6] can be found at Wiktionary's list of Proto-Luish reconstructions.


  1. ^ a b c d Matisoff, James A. (2013). "Re-Examining the Genetic Position of Jingpho: Putting Flesh on the Bones of the Jingpho/Luish Relationship" (PDF). Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area. 36 (2): 15–95.
  2. ^ a b Huziwara, Keisuke (2020). "On the Genetic Position of Chakpa Within Luish Languages". Himalayan Linguistics. 19 (2): 44–55. doi:10.5070/H91150999.
  3. ^ Burling, Robbins (2003). "The Tibeto-Burman Languages of Northeast India". In Thurgood, Graham; LaPolla, Randy J. (eds.). Sino-Tibetan Languages. London: Routledge. pp. 169–191. ISBN 978-0-7007-1129-1.
  4. ^ McCulloch, W. (1859). Account of the Valley of Munnipore and of the Hill Tribes: With a Comparative Vocabulary of the Munnipore and Other Languages. Calcutta: Bengal Printing Company.
  5. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Lui (bookkeeping)". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  6. ^ a b c Huziwara, Keisuke 藤原 敬介 (2012). "Rui sogo no saikou ni mukete" ルイ祖語の再構にむけて [Toward a Reconstruction of Proto-Luish]. Kyōtodaigaku gengogaku kenkyū 京都大学言語学研究 (in Japanese). 31: 25–131. doi:10.14989/182194. hdl:2433/182194.