|Native to||China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos|
|(720,000 cited 1983–2007)|
|Tai Le script|
Official language in
|China (Dehong) co-official|
Tai Nuea or Tai Nüa (Chinese: 傣那语; pinyin: Dǎinàyǔ; Thai: ภาษาไทเหนือ, pronounced [pʰāːsǎː tʰāj nɯ̌a]), also called Dehong Tai (Chinese: 德宏傣语; pinyin: Déhóng Dǎiyǔ; Thai: ภาษาไทใต้คง, pronounced [pʰāːsǎː tʰāj tâːj.kʰōŋ]) and Chinese Shan, 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 and could be considered a dialect of Shan. Speakers of this language across the border in Myanmar are known as Shan. It should not be confused with Tai Lü (Xishuangbanna Dai).
Most Tai Nuea people call themselves Tai Le (ᥖᥭᥰ ᥘᥫᥴ, IPA: [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.
Another autonym is [tai˥ taɯ˧˩ xoŋ˥] (ᥖᥭᥰ ᥖᥬᥲ ᥑᥨᥒᥰ), where [taɯ˧˩] means 'bottom, under, the lower part (of)' and [xoŋ˥] means 'the Hong River' (Luo 1998). Dehong is a transliteration of the term [taɯ˧˩ xoŋ˥].
The language is also known as Tai Mau, Tai Kong and Tai Na.
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.
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.
Tone marks were presented via the third reform (1963) as diacritics. Then the fourth reform (1988) changed them into tone letters. 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.
|Number||New (1988)||Old (1963)||Pitch|
The sixth tone (mid level) is not marked. And if a syllable with -p, -t, -k finals having the fifth tone, the tone mark is not written.
|1st person||exclusive||ᥐᥝ (kau33)||ᥖᥧ (tu33)|
|2nd person||ᥛᥬᥰ (maɯ55)||ᥔᥧᥴ (su35)|
|3rd person||ᥛᥢᥰ (man55)||ᥑᥝᥴ (xau35)|
Tai Nuea uses an SVO word order.
|ᥐᥤᥱ (ki11)||How many|
ᥛᥬᥰ ᥐᥤᥢ ᥑᥝᥲ ᥕᥝᥳ ᥞᥪᥴ?
maɯ55 kin33 xau42 jau54 hi35
you eat rice PERF.PTC INTERR.PTC
Have you eaten? (a common greeting)
ᥐᥝ ᥛᥨᥝ ᥖᥣᥢᥲ ᥑᥣᥛᥰ ᥖᥭᥰ ᥖᥬᥲ ᥑᥨᥒᥰ
kau33 mou35 tan42 xam55 tai55 taɯ42 xong55
I can speak language Tai De hong
I can speak Dehong Tai/ Tai Nuea.
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.