Burmish languages

Linguistic classification:


  • Burmic
  • Maruic
Glottolog: burm1266[1]
L1 speakers of Burmish languages and other Sino-Tibetan languages according to Ethnologue

The Burmish languages are Burmese, including Standard Burmese, Arakanese and other Burmese dialects such as the Tavoyan dialects as well as non-literary languages spoken across Myanmar and South China such as Achang, Lhao Vo, Lashi, and Zaiwa.


Many Burmish names are known by various names in different languages (Bradley 1997).

Names of Burmish languages
Autonym Jinghpaw name Burmese name Chinese name
Lawngwaw Maru Maru Làngsù 浪速
Tsaiwa Atsi Zi Zǎiwǎ 载瓦
Lachik Lashi Lashi Lāqí 喇期, Lèqí 勒期
Ngochang - Maintha Āchāng 阿昌
Pela - - Bōlā 波拉

In China, the Zaiwa 载瓦 (local Chinese exonym: 小山), Lhao Vo 浪速 (local Chinese exonym: Lang'e 浪峨), Lashi 勒期 (local Chinese exonym: Chashan 茶山), and Pela 波拉 are officially classified as Jingpo people (Bolayu Yanjiu). The local Chinese exonym for the Jingpho proper is Dashan 大山.

Dai Qingxia (2005:3) lists the following autonyms and exonyms for the various Burmish groups, with both Chinese character and IPA transcriptions (given in square brackets).[2]

Burmish autonyms and exonyms
Language Lhao Vo people 浪速 Jingpho people 景颇 Zaiwa people 载瓦 Lashi people 勒期 Pela people 波拉
Lhao Vo name 浪速语 Lang'e 浪峨 [lɔ̃˥˧˩vɔ˧˩]Bowo 波沃 [pʰauk˥vɔ˧˩]Zha'e 杂蛾 [tsa˧˥vɔ˧˩]Lashi 勒期 [lă˧˩tʃʰik˧˥]Buluo 布洛 [pă˧˩lɔ˧˩]
Jingpho name 景颇语 Moru 默汝 [mă˧˩ʒu˧˩]Jingpho 景颇 [tʃiŋ˧˩pʰoʔ˧˩]Aji 阿纪 [a˧˩tsi˥]Leshi 勒施 [lă˧˩ʃi˥]Boluo 波洛 [po˧˩lo˧˩]
Zaiwa name 载瓦语 Lelang 勒浪 [lă˨˩la̱ŋ˥˩]Shidong 石东 [ʃi˥tu̱ŋ˥]Zaiwa 载瓦 [tsai˧˩va˥˩]Lashi 勒期 [lă˨˩tʃʰi˥]Buluo 布洛 [pă˨˩lo˨˩]
Lashi name 勒期语 Langwu 浪悟 [laŋ˧˩vu˥˩]Puwu 铺悟 [pʰuk˥vu˥˩]Zaiwu 载悟 [tsai˧˩vu˥˩]Lashi 勒期 [lă˧˩tʃʰi˥˩]Buluo 布洛 [pă˧˩lɔ˥˩]
Pela name 波拉语 Longwa 龙瓦 [lõ˧˩va˧˩]Baowa 泡瓦 [pʰauk˧˩va˧˩]Diwa 氐瓦 [ti˧˩va˧˩]Lashi 勒期 [lă˧˩tʃʰi˥]Pela 波拉 [po˧˩la˧˩]

Autonyms are:[2]

The Chashan refer to themselves as ŋɔ˧˩tʃʰaŋ˥ (Echang 峨昌), the Jingpho as phuk˥, the Lashi as tsai˧wu˧˩ (tsai˧wu˥˩), the Lhao Vo as lă˧˩laŋ˧˩, the Lisu as lji˧səu˧˩, and the Han Chinese as la˧˩xɛ˧˩ (Dai 2010:153).[3]


Lama (2012)

Based on innovations in their tonal systems, Lama (2012: 177–179) classifies the languages as follows:

Chashan, a recently discovered Burmish language, is closely related to Lashi.

Nishi (1999)

Based on distinct treatment of the pre-glottalized initials of proto-Burmish, Nishi (1999: 68-70) divides the Burmish languages into two branches, Burmic and Maruic. The Burmic languages changed voiceless preglottalized stops into voiceless aspirate stops and preglottalized voiced sonorants into voiceless sonorants. The Maruic languages in contrast reflect voiceless preglottalized and affricate consonants as voiceless unaspirated and affricates with largyngealized vowels, and voiced preglottalized sonorants as voiced sonorants with laryngealized vowels. The Burmic Languages include Burmese, Achang, and Xiandao. The Maruic languages include Atsi (Zaiwa), Lashi (Leqi), Maru (Langsu), and Bola. Nishi does not classify Hpon and Nusu.


The Arakanese language retains r- separate from y-, whereas the two fall together in most Burmese dialects and indeed most Burmish languages. Tavoyan has kept kl- distinct. No dialect has kept ry- distinct from r-, but this may be an independent innovation in the various dialects. Merguiese is apparently the least well studied Burmese dialect.


Mann (1998)

Mann (1998: 16, 137) in contrast groups together Achang, Bela (by which he probably means Bola), Lashi, Maru, and Atsi together as North Burmic.

Bradley (1997)

David Bradley places aberrant Ugong with Burmish rather than with Loloish:


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Burmish". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. 1 2 Dai Qingxia (2005). A study of Langsu [浪速语研究]. Beijing: Ethnic Publishing House.
  3. Dai Qingxia [戴庆厦] (2010). The Chashan people of Pianma and their language [片马茶山人及其语言]. Beijing: The Commercial Press [商务印书馆].


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