Bolyu language

This article is about a Mon-Khmer language also known as "Lai". For the Sino-Tibetan language grouping, see Lai languages.
Native to China
Region Longlin County, Guangxi
Ethnicity 1,800 (2007)[1]
Native speakers
500 (2007)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 ply
Glottolog boly1239[2]

The Bolyu language (autonym: pɔ˧lju˩˧; Chinese: 巴琉语, 布流语; also known as Paliu, Palyu, or Lai 俫语, 徕语) is an Austroasiatic language of the Pakanic branch (Sidwell 1995). In 1984, Bolyu was first studied by Liang Min of the Nationalities Research Institute in Beijing. Liang was the first to suggest the Mon–Khmer affiliation of Bolyu, which was later confirmed by Western linguists such as Paul K. Benedict, Paul Sidwell, and Jerold A. Edmondson.


Bolyu is related to the Bugan language, forming the Pakanic branch along with it. However, the place of the Pakanic branch within the Mon–Khmer family is uncertain. Sidwell (1995) suggests that the Pakanic branch may be an Eastern Mon–Khmer branch, thus making it most closely related to the Vietic branch. However, Gérard Diffloth classifies Pakanic as Northern Mon–Khmer, making it most closely related to the Palaungic branch.[3]


Bolyu speakers are found in the following locations in southern China (Edmondson 1995).[4][5]

Li (1999) documents the Bolyu variety of Muzitun 亩子屯, Xinhe Village 新合村, Changfa Township 长发乡, Longlin County, Guangxi.

In the following villages, only elderly speakers of Bolyu remain.

1,400 Bolyu reside in Guangxi, and over 1,000 in Yunnan.[6]


Bolyu is a monosyllabic tonal language like the surrounding Tai–Kadai and Hmong–Mien languages. Unlike Bugan, Bolyu does not have a tense–lax voice quality distinction.

Bolyu has a total of six tones (Edmondson 1995).

Bolyu Tones
Tone number Tone contour
1 ˥
2 ˧
3 ˩
4 ˥˧
5 ˧˩
6 ˩˧

There are 7 vowels in Bolyu (Edmondson 1995): /a, e, ə, i, o, ɔ, u/.

Bolyu allows for a large variety of consonant clusters, and has 8 possible consonantal finals (Sidwell 1995): -p, -t, -k, -m, -n, -ŋ, -w, -j.


  1. 1 2 Bolyu at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Bolyu". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-08-09. Retrieved 2011-02-26.
  4. 俫语使用人口稳定增长原因探究。
  5. Li Xulian [李旭练]. 1999. A Study of Lai (Bolyu) [倈语硏究]. Beijing: Minzu University Press [中央民族大学出版社].
  6. 1 2 3 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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