Mulam language

Native to China
Region Luocheng County, Hechi, northern Guangxi
Ethnicity 210,000 (2000 census)[1]
Native speakers
86,000 (2005)[1]
< 10,000 monolinguals
Language codes
ISO 639-3 mlm
Glottolog mula1253[2]

The Mulam language Chinese: 仫佬; pinyin: Mùlǎo is a Kam–Sui language spoken mainly in Luocheng County, Hechi, northern Guangxi by the Mulao people. The greatest concentrations are in Dongmen and Siba communes. Their autonym is mu6 lam1. The Mulam also call themselves kjam1, which is probably cognate with lam1 and the Dong people's autonym "Kam" (Wang & Zheng 1980).

The Mulam language, like Dong, does not have voiced stop, but does have a phonemic distinction between unvoiced and voiced nasals and laterals. It has a system of eleven distinct vowels. It is a tonal language with ten tones, and 65% of its vocabulary is shared with the Zhuang and Dong languages.

Since the Ming dynasty, Chinese characters have been utilized to read and write the Mulam language. The majority of the Mulam also speak Chinese as well as the Zhuang and Dong languages.

The language of Mulam leads to a comparison between two languages as Graham Thurgood states, “For ‘headlouse,’ the KS forms are highly irregular: Kam, Mulam…” (Oceanic Linguistics, Vol. 33, No 2). This relates to the way in which one language can be interpreted through another language, which displays a level of diversity as they may derive different meanings from the translations. Within Mulam Phonology, there is a display of the syllables for Mulam that seems very difficult to decipher without having much knowledge of how they communicate with the dialect. The Mulam ethnic group traces back to the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), differing from the current society they have now as the people of Mulam eventually split in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).

The majority of the Mulam population are bilingual in the Mulam and the Zhuang language.


The following Mulam dialects are described by Wang & Zheng (1980) include (all of which are spoken in Luocheng Mulao Autonomous County):

The following comparison of Mulam dialects is from Ni Dabai (2010:221-222).[3]

English glossChinese glossQiaotou 桥头Huangjin 黄金Siba 四把Dongmen 东门Long'an 龙岸
hair, fur毛发pəm1pəm1pɣam1pɣam1kjam1


  1. 1 2 Mulam at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Mulam". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Ni Dabai [倪大白]. 2010. 侗台语概论 [An introduction to Kam-Tai languages]. Beijing: Ethnic Publishing House [民族出版社]. ISBN 978-7-105-10582-3

Further reading

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