Ethnicitysome of the Yao peoples
China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, United States
Linguistic classificationHmong–Mien
  • Mienic
Mienic languages:
  Iu Mien & Kim Mun
  Biao Min
  Dzao Min
Not shown: Biao Mon

The Mienic or Yao languages are spoken by the Yao people of China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand.

Some of the Yao peoples speak Hmongic languages (Miao); these are called Bunu. A small population of Yao people in Jinxiu Yao Autonomous County (金秀瑶族自治县) in eastern Guangxi speak a Tai-Kadai language called Lakkia. Other Yao peoples speak various Sinitic (Chinese) language varieties.


Distribution of Yao (Iu-Mien speakers) population in China

Mienic is one of the primary branches of the Hmong–Mien language family, with the other being Hmongic.

Ratliff (2010)

Martha Ratliff (2010:3) proposed the following classification:[1]

Strecker (1987)

Strecker 1987,[2] followed (with the addition of Moxi) by Matisoff 2001, proposed the following, with some of the more divergent varieties as additional languages:

Luang-Thongkum (1993)

Luang-Thongkum (1993:170)[3] proposes the following classification for Mjuenic, a proposed branch consisting of the Mien, Mun, and Muen (Biao Mon) languages. The classifications of Biao Min and Dzao Min are not addressed.

Mao (2004)

Mao Zongwu (2004) classifies the Mienic languages varieties of China as follows. Data points studied in Mao (2004) are also listed for each dialect.

A Mienic lect called bjau2 mwan2 ("Biao Man 标曼"), related to Mien of Changping and Luoxiang, is spoken in Liuchong 六冲, Qiaoting Township 桥亭乡, Pingle County 平乐县, Guangxi (Tang 1994); another "Biao Man 标曼" dialect is spoken in Dongpingdong 东坪洞 (Tang 1994).[7] There are about 10,000 speakers in Mengshan, Lipu, Pingle, and Zhaoping counties.

The comparative vocabulary chart in Mao Zongwu (2004) consists of the following languages.

  1. Guangdian Mien (Jiangdi); autonym: mjen31
  2. Diangui Kim Mun (Liangzi); autonym: kjeːm33 mun33
  3. Dongshan Biao Min; autonym: bjau31 min31
  4. Daping Dzao Min; autonym: dzau53 min53
  5. Xiangnan Mien (Miaoziyuan); autonym: mjəŋ31
  6. Changping Mien ( = Biao Mon); autonym: bjau31 moːn31
  7. Luoxiang Mien; autonym: bjau31 mwan31
  8. Fanghai Kim Mun (Tansan); autonym: kiːm33 mun33
  9. Shikou Biao Min ( = Chao Kong Meng); autonym: mɔu31 jɔu55
  10. Niuweizhai Biao Min ( = Moxi); autonym: mɔ433 ɕi53

Aumann & Sidwell (2004)

Using Mao's (2004) new data, Aumann & Sidwell (2004) propose the following classification of the Mienic languages, based on innovations in rhotic consonants.[8] This classification presents a bipartite division of the Mienic into a subgroup consisting of Iu Mien and Biao Min, and another subgroup consisting of Kim Mun and Dzao Min. Luoxiang is grouped with Kim Mun, while Changping is grouped with Dzao Min.

Aumann & Sidwell (2004) consider the following classification by Wang & Mao to be unlikely, which is based on the voicing of voiceless sonorants, a common areal feature.

Taguchi (2012)

Yoshihisa Taguchi's (2012) computational phylogenetic study classifies the Mienic languages as follows.[9]



Zao Min

Biao Min (Dongshan)

Biao Min (Shikou)

Kim Mun (Diangui)

Mien (Changping, Luoxiang)

Mien (Guangdian, Xiangnan)

Hsiu (2018)

Hsiu's (2018)[10] computational phylogenetic study classifies the Mienic languages as follows.

Hsiu (2018) considers Changping Mien to have been influenced by Kim Mun lects due to geographical proximity, although it retains many unique forms that indicate it should belong in its own branch.

Hsiu (2023)

Hsiu (2023) announced the discovery of the previously undocumented Yangchun Pai Yao, likely a sister branch to Dzao Min, or possibly belonging to its own branch outright.[11]

Mixed languages

Some languages may be mixed Chinese and Mienic (Yao) languages, such as:


Numerals in Mienic Languages[13]
Language One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Ten
Proto-Hmong-Mien *ʔɨ *ʔu̯i *pjɔu *plei *prja *kruk *dzjuŋH *jat *N-ɟuə *gju̯əp
Iu Mien jet12 i33 pwo33 pjei33 pia33 tɕu55 sje13 ɕet12 dwo31 tsjop12
Ao Biao (Luoxiang) jit43 vi33 pu33 pje33 pla33 kwo43 ȵi11 jat32 du31 ɕep32
Biao Mon (Changping) no35 i33 pu33 plei33 pla33 kju53 ŋi22 jaːt21 du21 sjəp21
Kim Mun a33 i35 ˀpɔ35 pjei35 pja35 kjo35 ȵi42 jet55 du33 ʃap42
Biao Min i33 wəi33 pau33 pləi33 pla33 klɔ53 ni42 hjɛn42 iu31 ȶʰan42
Chao Kong Meng (Shikou) ji35 vi33 bɔu33 pli33 pla53 klɔ35 ŋi13 jæ22 tɕu55 tɕæ22
Moxi (Niuweizhai) i33 wei33 pəu33 pɣɯi33 pɤa33 kɤɔ55 ɕi31 hjɯ53 du53 tɕʰwa53
Dzao Min a44 vi42 bu42 pɛi42 pjɛ42 tɔu44 ȵi22 dzat22 ku53 sjɛp22

See also


  1. ^ Ratliff, Martha. 2010. Hmong–Mien language history. Canberra, Australia: Pacific Linguistics.
  2. ^ Strecker, David. 1987. "The Hmong-Mien Languages." In Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area, 10 , no. 2: 1-11.
  3. ^ Luang-Thongkum, Theraphan. 1993. A view on Proto-Mjuenic (Yao). Mon-Khmer Studies 22:163-230.
  4. ^ location not found on map
  5. ^ "河口瑶族自治县瑶山乡梁子村委会新寨自然村". www.ynszxc.gov.cn. Archived from the original on 2014-12-18.
  6. ^ "勐腊县瑶区瑶族乡黄莲山村委会梭山脚". www.ynszxc.gov.cn. Archived from the original on 2014-12-18.
  7. ^ Tang Yongliang 唐永亮. 1994. 瑶族勉语六冲标曼话语音特点和声调实验研究. Minzu Yuwen 1994:5.
  8. ^ Aumann, Greg and Paul Sidwell. 2004. "Subgrouping of Mienic Languages: Some Observations." In Papers from the Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society, edited by Somsonge Burusphat. Tempe, Arizona, 13-27. Arizona State University, Program for Southeast Asian Studies.
  9. ^ Yoshihisa Taguchi [田口善久] (2012). On the Phylogeny of the Hmong-Mien languages Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine. Conference in Evolutionary Linguistics 2012.
  10. ^ Hsiu, Andrew. 2018. Preliminary classification of Mienic languages.
  11. ^ Hsiu, Andrew (May 16–18, 2023). "The Pai Yao language of Yangchun: Final remnants of a Mienic language". Southeast Asian Linguistics Society. Retrieved 2023-09-19.
  12. ^ Cited in Chiang (1995) We two know the script, we have become good friends, p. 28, footnote 43.
  13. ^ "Miao-Yao". lingweb.eva.mpg.de. Archived from the original on 2009-05-19.

Further reading

Sources with word lists of Mienic languages