Maonan language

Native to China
Region Huanjiang County, Hechi, northern Guangxi
Ethnicity 107,000 (2000)[1]
Native speakers
30,000 (2005)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 mmd
Glottolog maon1241[2]

The Maonan language is a Kam–Sui language spoken mainly in Huanjiang Maonan Autonomous County, Hechi, northern Guangxi by the Maonan people.[3]


Approximately half of all Maonan people are capable of speaking Maonan. In addition to this, many Maonan also speak Chinese or a Zhuang language. About 1/3 of all people who self-identify as Maonan are concentrated in the southern Guizhou province. They speak a mutually unintelligible dialect commonly called Yanghuang, which is more common known as the Then language in Western literature. The Maonan do not have a writing system.

Other than Huanjiang Maonan Autonomous County in Guangxi, Maonan is also spoken in the following locations.[4]


Maonan is a tonal language with 8 tones (Lu 2008:90–91), featuring an SVO clause construction (Lu 2008:169). For example, man (he/she) shoot (drink) ka:u (wine) "He/She drinks wine", man (he/she) ba:i (go) (market) "He/She goes to the market", etc.


Maonan displays a head-first modification structure, i.e. the modifier occurring after the modifier (Lu 2008:170). For example, ka:u (wine) hulia:ng (broomcorn) "broomcorn wine", mu (pig) la:u (big) "big pig", nok (bird) vin (fly) "flying bird", among others. Occasionally, a head-final modification structure is also possible with the involvement of a possessive particle (P.P.) di, e.g. ya:n (house/family) nda:u (we/our) di (P.P.) bo (buffalo) "Our family's buffalo" (cf. the more common bo ya:n nda:u) (ibid. pp173–174).

See also


  1. 1 2 Maonan at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Maonan". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Lu, Tian Qiao (2008). A Grammar of Maonan. Boca Raton, Florida: Universal Publishers. ISBN 978-1-59942-971-7.
  4. Guangxi Minority Languages Orthography Committee. 2008. Vocabularies of Guangxi ethnic languages [广西民族语言方音词汇]. Beijing: Nationalities Publishing House [民族出版社].
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