Hmu language

Qiandong Miao
Black Miao
Pronunciation [m̥ʰū]
Native to China
Region mostly Guizhou
Ethnicity mostly Miao, some Yao
Native speakers
2.1 million (1995)[1]
Standard forms
Standard Miao
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Variously:
hea  Northern
hmq  Eastern
hms  Southern
neo  Ná-Meo
Glottolog east2369[2]

The Hmu language (hveb Hmub), also known as Qiandong Miao (黔东 Eastern Guizhou Miao), Central Miao, East Hmongic, or (somewhat ambiguously) Black Miao, is a dialect cluster of Hmongic languages of China. The best studied dialect is that of Yǎnghāo (养蒿) village, Taijiang County, Guizhou Province, China.

Qanu 咯努, a Hmu variety, had 11,450 speakers as of 2000, and is spoken just south of Kaili City, Guizhou.[3] The Qanu are ethnoculturally distinct from the other Hmu.


Autonyms include m̥hu˧ in Kaili, mo˧ in Jinping County, mu˩˧ in Tianzhu County, m̥ə˧ in Huangping County, qa˧ nəu˩˧ in some parts of Qiandongnan (Miaoyu Jianzhi 苗语简志 1985), and ta˩ mu˩ in Rongshui Miao Autonomous County, Guangxi.[4] Ná-Meo, spoken by the Mieu people of Cao Minh Commune, Tràng Định District, Lạng Sơn Province, Vietnam, may be closely related.[5]

Subdivisions and distribution

Wang (1985)

Wang Fushi (1985)[6] groups the Qiandong Miao languages as follows.

Wu (2009)

Wu Zhengbiao (2009)[8] divides Hmu into 7 different dialects. Past classifications usually included only 3 or 4 dialects. For example, Li Jinping & Li Tianyi (2012),[9] based on past classifications, divide Hmu into the 3 dialects of Northern,[10] Southern,[11] and Eastern.[12] Datapoint locations of representative dialects are from Li Yunbing (2000).[13]


Hmu has been recognized as a branch of Hmongic since the 1950s. Wang (1985) recognized three varieties. Matisoff (2001) treated these as distinct languages, which is reflected in Ethnologue. Lee (2000) added a fourth variety, Western Hmu (10,000 speakers), among the Yao,[13] and Matisoff (2006) lists seven (Daigong, Kaili [N], Lushan, Taijiang [N], Zhenfeng [N], Phö, Rongjiang [S]).


Northern Qiandong Miao, also known as Central Miao and as Eastern Guizhou Hmu (黔东方言 Qián-Dōng fāngyán), was chosen as the standard for Hmu-language textbooks in China, based on the pronunciation of Yǎnghāo (养蒿) village.[15]


The phonemic inventory and alphabetic transcription are as follows.

Northern Hmu consonants
Nasalvoiced m /m/ n /n/ ni /nʲ/ ng /ŋ/
aspirated hm /m̥ʰ/ hn /n̥ʰ/ hni /n̥ʲʰ/
Plosivetenuis b /p/ d /t/ di /tʲ/ g /k/ gh /q/ (/ʔ/)
aspirated p /pʰ/ t /tʰ/ ti /tʲʰ/ k /kʰ/ kh /qʰ/
Affricatetenuis z /ts/ j /tɕ/
aspirated c /tsʰ/ q /tɕʰ/
voiced w /v/ r /z/ y /ʑ/ v /ɣ/
tenuis f /f/ s /s/ x /ɕ/ h /h/
aspirated hf /fʰ/ hs /sʰ/ hx /ɕʰ/ hv /xʰ/
tenuis dl /ɬ/ dli /ɬʲ/
aspirated hl /ɬʰ/ hli /ɬʲʰ/
Lateral approximant l /l/ li /lʲ/

[ʔ] is not distinct from a zero initial (that is, if we accept /ʔ/ as a consonant, there are no vowel-initial words in Hmu), and only occurs with tones 1, 3, 5, 7.

The aspirated nasals and fricatives do not exist in Southern or Eastern Hmu; cognates words use their unaspirated homologues. Further, in Eastern Hmu, di, ti merge into j, q; c merges into x; r (Northern /z/) merges into ni; and v is pronounced [w]. In Southern Hmu, words cognate with hni (and some with ni) are pronounced [nʲʑ]; those with r are [nz]; and some words exchange s and x.

Northern Hmu vowels
Front Central Back
oral nasal oral nasal oral nasal
Close i /i/ u /u/
Mid ai /ɛ/ en /en/ e /ə/ o /o/ ong /oŋ/
Open a /ɑ/ ang /ɑŋ/

Ai /ɛ/ does not occur after palatalized consonants. /en/ after palatalized consonants is spelled in.

Close component is front ei /ej/
Close component is back eu /əw/

Additional diphthongs occur in Chinese loans.

All dialects have eight tones. There is no sandhi. In the chart below, Northern Hmu is represented by Yanghao village (Kaili City), Eastern Hmu by 偶里 village (Jinping County), and Southern Hmu by 振民 (Rongshui County).

Hmu tone
Tone Letter Northern Eastern Southern
1 b ˧ 3 ˧ 3 ˧ 3
3 d ˧˥ 35 ˨̤ 2 ˧˥ 35
5 t ˦ 4 ˦˥ 45 ˦ 4
7 k ˥˧ 53 ˨˦ 24 ˨˦ 24
2 x ˥ 5 ~ ˦˥ 45 ˦˨ 42 ˥˧ 53
4 l ˩̤ 1 ˨˩ 21 ˧˩ 31
6 s ˩˧̤ 13 ˥ 5 ˨̤ 2
8 f ˧˩ 31 ˩˨̤ 12 ˨˩˧ 213

The lowest tones—Northern tones 4 and 6, Eastern tones 3 and 8, and Southern tone 6—are said to make the preceding consonant murmured (breathy voiced), presumably meaning that these are murmured tones as in other Hmongic languages. They are marked with ◌̤ in the chart.

References and notes

  1. Northern at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Eastern at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Southern at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Ná-Meo at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "East Hmongic". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  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].
  5. Nguyễn Văn Thắng (2007). Ambiguity of Identity: The Mieu in North Vietnam. Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books.
  6. 王辅世主编,《苗语简志》,民族出版社,1985年。
  7. 1 2 Hsiu, Andrew (2015). The classification of Na Meo, a Hmong-Mien language of Vietnam. Paper presented at SEALS 25, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
  8. 吴正彪,《黔东方言苗语土语划分问题的再探讨》,《吉首大学学报(社会科学版)》,第30卷(2009),117至121页。
  9. Li Jinping, Li Tianyi [李锦平, 李天翼]. 2012. A comparative study of Miao dialects [苗语方言比较研究]. Chengdu: Southwest Jiaotong University Press
  10. Representative dialect: Yanghao, Sankeshu, Kaili City 贵州凯里三棵树养蒿
  11. Representative dialect: Gaolian, Xiajiang, Congjiang County 贵州从江下江高联
  12. Representative dialect: Meihua, Zhulin, Tianzhu County 贵州天柱竹林梅花
  13. 1 2 李云兵,《苗语方言划分遗留问题研究》,中央民族大学出版社,2000年。
  14. 1 2 Chen, Qiguang [陈其光] (2013). Miao and Yao language [苗瑶语文]. Beijing: China Minzu University Press.
  15. 石德富 Shi Defu; 苗语基础教程(黔东方言) Miao-yu jichu jiaocheng (Qian-Dong fangyan) 中央民族大学出版社 Central Minorities Publishing House (2006-08出版)
Miao test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 6/13/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.