|Northern Yi, Liangshan Yi, Sichuan Yi|
|Region||Southern Sichuan, northern Yunnan|
|2 million (2000 census)|
|Yi syllabary, formerly Yi logograms|
Nuosu or Nosu (ꆈꌠꉙ, transcribed as Nuo su hxop), also known as Northern Yi, Liangshan Yi, and Sichuan Yi, is the prestige language of the Yi people; it has been chosen by the Chinese government as the standard Yi language (Chinese: 彝语) and, as such, is the only one taught in schools, both in its oral and written forms. It was spoken by two million people and was increasing as of (PRC census); 60% were monolingual (1994 estimate). Nuosu is the native Nuosu name for their own language and is not used in Mandarin Chinese, though it may sometimes be translated as Nuòsūyǔ (simplified Chinese: 诺苏语; traditional Chinese: 諾蘇語).
The occasional terms "Black Yi" (黑彝; hēi Yí) and 'White Yi' (白彝; bái Yí) are castes of the Nuosu people, not dialects.
Nuosu is one of several often mutually unintelligible varieties known as Yi, Lolo, Moso, or Noso; the six Yi languages recognized by the Chinese government hold only 25% to 50% of their vocabulary in common. They share a common traditional writing system, though this is used for shamanism rather than daily accounting.
Lama (2012) gives the following classification for Nuosu dialects.
The Qumusu (曲木苏, Tianba 田坝) dialect is the most divergent one. The other dialects group as Niesu (聂苏, Suondi and Adu) and as Nuosu proper (Muhisu 米西苏, Yinuo 义诺, and Shengzha 圣乍). Niesu has both lost voiceless nasals and developed diphthongs.
Adu (阿都话), characterized by its labial–velar consonants, is spoken in the Butuo and Ningnan counties of Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province, and also in parts of Puge, Zhaojue, Dechang, and Jinyang counties.
Nyisu or Yellow Yi (黄彝) of Fumin County, Yunnan may either be a Suondi Yi (Nuosu) dialect or Nisu dialect.
Zhu and Zhang (2005) reports that the Shuitian people (水田人) reside mostly in the lowlands of the Anning River drainage basin, in Xichang, Xide, and Mianning counties of Liangshan Prefecture in Sichuan. They are called Muhisu (mu33 hi44 su33) by the neighboring Yi highland people. Shuitian is spoken in the following locations. Shuitian belongs to the Shengzha dialect (圣乍次土语) of Northern Yi.
According to Bradley (1997), there are three main dialects of Nosu, of which the Southeastern one (Sondi) is most divergent.
Chen (2010) lists the following dialects of Nosu. Also listed are the counties where each respective dialect is spoken.
Main article: Yi script
Classic Yi is a syllabic logographic system of 8,000–10,000 glyphs. Although similar to Chinese characters in function, the glyphs are independent in form, with little to suggest a direct relation.
In 1958 the Chinese government had introduced a Roman-based alphabet based on the romanized script of Gladstone Porteous of Sayingpan. This was later replaced by the Modern Yi script.
The Modern Yi script (ꆈꌠꁱꂷ nuosu bburma [nɔ̄sū bʙ̝̄mā] 'Nosu script') is a standardized syllabary derived from the classic script in 1974. It was made the official script of the Yi languages in 1980. There are 756 basic glyphs based on the Liangshan dialect, plus 63 for syllables only found in Chinese borrowings. The government requires the use of the script for signs in some designated public places.
The written equivalents of the phonemes listed here are "Yi Pinyin". For information about the actual script used see the section entitled "Writing System".
|Nasal||unvoiced||m̥ ⟨hm⟩||n̥ ⟨hn⟩|
|voiced||m ⟨m⟩||n ⟨n⟩||ɲ ⟨ny⟩||ŋ ⟨ng⟩|
|unvoiced||p ⟨b⟩||t ⟨d⟩||ts ⟨z⟩||ʈʂ ⟨zh⟩||tɕ ⟨j⟩||k ⟨g⟩|
|aspirated||pʰ ⟨p⟩||tʰ ⟨t⟩||tsʰ ⟨c⟩||ʈʂʰ ⟨ch⟩||tɕʰ ⟨q⟩||kʰ ⟨k⟩|
|voiced||b ⟨bb⟩||d ⟨dd⟩||dz ⟨zz⟩||ɖʐ ⟨rr⟩||dʑ ⟨jj⟩||ɡ ⟨gg⟩|
|prenasalized||ᵐb ⟨nb⟩||ⁿd ⟨nd⟩||ⁿdz ⟨nz⟩||ᶯɖʐ ⟨nr⟩||ᶮdʑ ⟨nj⟩||ᵑɡ ⟨mg⟩|
|Continuant||unvoiced||f ⟨f⟩||l̥ ⟨hl⟩||s ⟨s⟩||ʂ ⟨sh⟩||ɕ ⟨x⟩||x ⟨h⟩||h ⟨hx⟩|
|voiced||v ⟨v⟩||l ⟨l⟩||z ⟨ss⟩||ʐ ⟨r⟩||ʑ ⟨y⟩||ɣ ⟨w⟩|
|loose||⟨y⟩ /z̩/||⟨u⟩ /v̩ʷ/|
|tight||⟨yr⟩ /z̠̩/||⟨ur⟩ /v̠̩ʷ/|
|Close||loose||⟨i⟩ /e̝/||⟨e⟩ /ɤ̝/||⟨o⟩ /o̝/|
|Open-mid||tight||⟨ie⟩ /ɛ/||⟨uo⟩ /ɔ/|
Nuosu has five pairs of phonemic vowels, contrasting in a feature Andy Eatough calls loose throat vs. tight throat. Underlining is used as an ad-hoc symbol for tight throat; phonetically, these vowels are laryngealized and/or show a retracted tongue root. Loose vs. tight throat is the only distinction in the two pairs of syllabic consonants, but in the vocoids it is reinforced by a height difference.
The syllabic consonants y(r) u(r) are essentially the usual Sinological vowels ɿ ʮ, so ⟨y⟩ can be identified with the vowel of the Mandarin 四 sì "four", but they have diverse realizations. Y(r) completely assimilates to a preceding coronal except in voice, e.g. /ɕz̩˨˩/ [ɕʑ̩˨˩] ꑮ xyp "to marry", and are [m͡l̩] after a labial nasal, e.g. /m̥z̩˧sz̩˧/ [m̥m͡l̩˧sɹ̩˧] ꂪꌦ hmy sy "cloth". U(r) assimilates similarly after laterals, retaining its rounding, e.g. /l̥v̩ʷ˧/ [l̥l̩ʷ˧] ꆭ hlu "to stir-fry", and is [m̩ʷ] after a labial nasal, e.g. /m̥v̩ʷ˧/ [m̥m̩ʷ˧] ꂥ hmu "mushroom"; moreover it induces a labially trilled release of preceding labial or alveolar stops, e.g. /ⁿdv̩ʷ˨˩/ [ⁿdʙβ̩˨˩] ꅥ ndup "to hit".
The tight-throat phone [ɤ̝] occurs as the realization of /ɤ̝/ in the high tone. That it is phonemically loose-throat is shown by its behaviour in tightness harmony in compound words.
Nuosu syllable structure is (C)V.
The high-mid tone is only marginally contrastive. Its two main sources are from tone sandhi rules, as the outcome of a mid tone before another mid tone, and the outcome of a low-falling tone after a mid tone. However, these changes do not occur in all compounds where they might: for instance ꊈ wo "bear" + ꃀ mop "mother" regularly forms ꊈꂾ wo mox "female bear", but ꃤ vi "jackal" + ꃀ mop "mother" forms ꃤꃀ vi mop "female jackal" without sandhi. The syntax creates other contrasts: tone sandhi applies across the boundary between object and verb, so is present in SOV clauses like ꃅꏸꇐꄜꎷ mu jy lu ti shex "Mujy looks for Luti", but is absent in OSV clauses like ꃅꏸꇐꄜꎹ mu jy lu ti shep "Luti looks for Mujy". A few words, like ꑞ xix "what?", have underlying high-mid tone.
Nuosu is an analytic language, the basic word order is Subject–object–verb. Vocabularies of Nuosu can be divided into content words and function words. Among content words, nouns in Nuosu do not perform inflections for grammatical gender, number, and cases, classifiers are required when the noun is being counted; verbs do not perform conjugations for its persons and tenses; adjectives are usually placed after the word being fixed with a structural particle and do not perform inflections for comparison. Function words, especially grammatical particles, have a significant role in terms of sentence constructions in Nuosu. Nuosu does not have article words, but conjunctions and postposition words are used.
Classifiers are required when numbers are used for fixing nouns.
|IPA||t͡sʰẑ̩||ɲê̝||sɔ̠̄||lz̩̄||ŋɤ̝̄||fv̩̋ʷ||ʂʐ̩̄||he̝̋||gv̩̄ʷ||t͡sʰz̩̄||t͡sʰẑ̩ t͡sʰz̩̄||t͡sʰē̝ ɲê̝|
|Yi Pinyin||cyp||nyip||suo||ly||nge||fut||shyp||hxit||ggu||cy||cyp cy||ci nyip|