Tai Ya
Tai Cung
Native toChina, thailand
Native speakers
50,000 (2000 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3cuu

Tai Ya (Chinese: 傣雅语), also known as Tai Cung, Tai Chung and Dai Ya,[2] is a Southwestern Tai language of southern China. It has one dialect, Tai Hongjin (Chinese: 红金傣语); Red Tai.

Speakers of Tai Hongjin live in the Red River (红河 or 元江) and Jinsha River (金沙江) watershed regions of south-central Yunnan. Most are Buddhists, but few are Theravada. It is also spoken by around 5,000–6,000 people in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand.

Unlike other more widely studied Dai languages, Tai Ya has no traditional orthography, though it has a rich oral tradition.[3] Papers[4] have noted that this lack of orthography may endanger the survival of Tai Ya in future generations in Thailand, as the Tai Ya people shift towards the use of Northern Thai and Central Thai, due to the lack of literature in Tai Ya. However, it has been attested that language vitality as a whole (including the majority speakers in Yunnan Province) is high and "likely to be spoken by future generations".[3]


Tai Hongjin can be split into five dialects, which are often mutually unintelligible (Zhou 2001:14).

The total number of Tai Hongjin speakers combined is 136,000 (Zhou 2001:14). A related but separate Tai language called Dǎi Jīnpíng (金平傣语) is spoken in Jinping County (金平县), Honghe Prefecture (红河州), which Zhou (2001) reports as having 15,400 speakers.[5] This language has its own traditional script as well (see Zhou 2001:379).


Heipu 黑蒲 (autonym: Kalang 卡郎 kʰa³³lun²¹; also called Baiyi 摆彝 by the Han Chinese) is a variety of Tai Ya (傣雅) spoken by 118 people in the two villages[6] of Shitouzhai (石头寨[7]) and Xiaomiao (小庙[8]) in Panlong Township (盘龙乡), District 5 (五区), Xinping County, Yunnan (You 2013:268).[9] Heipu (黑蒲) is a Han Chinese exonym referring to their practice of teeth blackening. In Xinping County, the Heipu also refer to themselves as the Tai Kha (傣卡) (You 2013:336).[9] It is mutually intelligible with Tai Ya as spoken in District 4 (四区) of Xinping County. However, Heipu is unique in that it has only four tones, and has lost the final stops -p, -t, -k. Heipu is not to be confused with two other groups of the same name:


  1. ^ Tai Ya at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ William Frawley (1 May 2003). International Encyclopedia of Linguistics. Oxford University Press. p. 210. ISBN 978-0-19-513977-8. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  3. ^ a b Kirk R. Person; Wenxue Yang (2005). The Tones of Tai Ya. Department of Linguistics, School of Graduate Studies, Payap University. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  4. ^ Tehan, T. Tehan; E. Dawkins (2010-12-07), "Tai Ya Reversing Language Shift 7 December 2010 1 Tai Ya in Thailand Present and Future: Reversing Language Shift" (PDF), Tai Ya Reversing Language Shift, pp. 2–3
  5. ^ The Dai Jinping data point studied in Zhou (2001) is that of Xinmeng village 新勐村, Mengla township 勐拉乡, Jinping County 金平县.
  6. ^ 云南民族识别参考资料 (1955), p.69
  7. ^ "新平县建兴乡盘龙村民委员会石头寨". Archived from the original on 2016-12-01. Retrieved 2021-06-18.
  8. ^ "新平县建兴乡盘龙村民委员会小庙". Archived from the original on 2016-12-01. Retrieved 2021-06-18.
  9. ^ a b c You Weiqiong [尤伟琼]. 2013. Classifying ethnic groups of Yunnan [云南民族识别研究]. Beijing: Ethnic Publishing House [民族出版社].


Further reading[edit]

  • Xing Gongwan [邢公畹]. 1989. Upper Hongjin Dai Ya Language [红河上游傣雅语]. Language Publishing House [语文出版社].
  • Zhou Yaowen [周耀文]. 2001. A Study of Dai Dialects [傣语方言研究]. Ethnic Publishing House [民族出版社].

External links[edit]