|Pronunciation||[tai˥ taɯ˧˩ xoŋ˥]|
|Native to||China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos|
|(720,000 cited 1983–2007)|
|Tai Le script|
Official language in
|co-official in Dehong, China|
Tai Nuea or Tai Nüa (Tai Nüa: ᥖᥭᥰᥖᥬᥳᥑᥨᥒᥰ; also called Tai Le, Dehong Dai or Chinese Shan; own name: Tai2 Lə6, which means "Upper Tai" or "Northern Tai" or ᥖᥭᥰᥖᥬᥳᥑᥨᥒᥰ, [tai taɯ xoŋ]; Chinese: Dǎinàyǔ, 傣那语 or Déhóng Dǎiyǔ, 德宏傣语; Thai: ภาษาไทเหนือ, pronounced [pʰāːsǎː tʰāj nɯ̌a] or ภาษาไทใต้คง, pronounced [pʰāːsǎː tʰāj tâːj.kʰōŋ]) is one of the languages spoken by the Dai people in China, especially in the Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture in the southwest of Yunnan Province. It is closely related to the other Tai languages. Speakers of this language across the border in Myanmar are known as Shan. It should not be confused with Tai Lü (Xishuangbanna Dai).
The language is also known as Tai Mau, Tai Kong and Tai Na.
Most Tai Nuea people call themselves tai˥lə˧, which means 'Upper Tai' or 'Northern Tai'. Note that this is different from Tai Lue, which is pronounced tai˥lɪ˦˧ in Tai Nuea.
Dehong is a transliteration of the term taɨ˧˩xoŋ˥, where taɨ˧˩ means 'bottom, under, the lower part (of)' and xoŋ˥ means 'the Hong River' (more widely known as the Salween River or Nujiang 怒江 in Chinese) (Luo 1998).
Zhou (2001:13) classifies Tai Nuea into the Dehong (德宏) and Menggeng (孟耿) dialects. Together, they add up to a total of 541,000 speakers.
Ethnologue also recognizes Tai Long of Laos as a separate language. It is spoken by 4,800 people (as of 2004) in Luang Prabang Province, Laos.
Tai Nuea is a tonal language with a very limited inventory of syllables with no consonant clusters. 16 syllable-initial consonants can be combined with 84 syllable finals and six tones.
*(kʰ) and (tsʰ) occur in loanwords
Tai Nuea has ten vowels and 13 diphthongs:
Tai Nuea has six tones:
Syllables with p, t, k as final consonants can have only one of three tones (1., 3., or 5.).
Main article: Tai Le script
The Tai Le script is closely related to other Southeast-Asian writing systems such as the Thai script and is thought to date back to the 14th century.
The original Tai Nuea spelling did not generally mark tones and failed to distinguish several vowels. It was reformed to make these distinctions, and diacritics were introduced to mark tones. The resulting writing system was officially introduced in 1956. In 1988, the spelling of tones was reformed; special tone letters were introduced instead of the earlier Latin diacritics.
The modern script has a total of 35 letters, including the five tone letters.
The transcription below is given according to the Unicode tables.
Consonants that are not followed by a vowel letter are pronounced with the inherent vowel [a]. Other vowels are indicated with the following letters:
Diphthongs are formed by combining some vowel letters with the consonant ᥝ [w] and some vowel letters with ᥭ [ai]/[j].
In the Thai and Tai Lü writing systems, the tone value in the pronunciation of a written syllable depends on the tone class of the initial consonant, vowel length and syllable structure. In contrast, the Tai Nuea writing system has a very straightforward spelling of tones, with one letter (or diacritic) for each tone.
A tone mark is put at the end of syllable whatever it is consonant or vowel. Examples in the table show the syllable [ta] in different tones, in old (1956) and new (1988) spellings.
The sixth tone (mid level) is not marked. And if a checked syllable having the fifth tone, it is also not marked.
Tai Nuea has official status in some parts of Yunnan (China), where it is used on signs and in education. Yunnan People's Radio Station (Yúnnán rénmín guǎngbō diàntái 云南人民广播电台) broadcasts in Tai Nuea. On the other hand, however, very little printed material is published in Tai Nuea in China. However, many signs of roads and stores in Mangshi are in Tai Nuea.
In Thailand, a collection of 108 proverbs was published with translations into Thai and English.