Lahu language

Native to Yunnan, China; Thailand; Laos; Myanmar
Ethnicity Lahu
Native speakers
600,000 (2007–2012)[1]
Latin script
Official status
Official language in
Lancang Lahu Autonomous County, Yunnan
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Variously:
lhu  Lahu
lhi  Lahu Shi
lkc  Kucong
Glottolog laho1234[2]

Lahu (autonym: Ladhof [lɑ˥˧xo˩]) is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken by the Lahu people of China, Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. It is widely used in China, both by Lahu people, and by other ethnic minorities in Yunnan, who use it as a lingua franca.[3] However, the language is not widely used nor taught in any schools in Thailand, where many Lahu are in fact refugees and illegal immigrants, having crossed into Thailand from Myanmar.[4]


Matisoff (2006)

A few dialects are noted, which are each known by a variety of names:[5]

Pham (2013)

Phạm Huy (2013:13) lists the following 3 branches.

Yunnan (1998)

Yunnan (1998:280)[8] lists 5 Lahu dialects.

Traditionally Lahu folk taxonomy splits the Lahu people into the two groups of Black Lahu and Yellow Lahu; Red Lahu and White Lahu are new dialect clusters originating in messianic movements within the past few centuries.[9] Black Lahu is the standard dialect in China,[3] as well as the lingua franca among different groups of Lahu in Thailand.[4] However, it is intelligible to speakers of Yellow Lahu only with some difficulty.[3]

Bradley (1979)

Based on the numbers of shared lexical items, Bradley (1979) classifies the Lahu dialects as follows:[10]

Common Lahu

Lama (2012)

Lama (2012) gives the following tentative classification for what he calls Lahoid.


Jin (2007)

Jin Youjing (2007)[11] classifies the Lahu dialects as follows.

Jin Youjing (1992)[12] covers Lahu linguistic geography and dialectology in detail.

Sound changes

Lama (2012) lists the following sound changes from Proto-Loloish as Lahu innovations.

See also


  1. Lahu at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Lahu Shi at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Kucong at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Lahoid". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. 1 2 3 Gordon 2005, Lahu
  4. 1 2 Reh 2005
  5. Matisoff 2006, p. xiii
  6. Lahuyu Jianzhi 拉祜语简志 (1986)
  8. Yunnan Gazetteer Commission [云南省地方志编纂委员会] (ed). 1998. Yunnan Provincial Gazetteer, Vol. 59: Minority Languages Orthographies Gazetteer [云南省志. 卷五十九, 少数民族语言文字志]. Kunming: Yunnan People's Press [云南人民出版社].
  9. Bradley 1979, p. 41
  10. Bradley 1979, p. 159
  11. Jin Youjing [金有景]. 2007. "Guanyu Lahuyu de fangyan" [关于拉祜语的方言]. Minzu Yuwen 民族语文 2007:3.
  12. Jin Youjing 金有景, et. al. 1992. 中国拉祜语方言地图集 = Cokawr Ladhof khawd fayer diqthurcir = the linguistic atlas of Lahu in China. Tianjin: Tianjin she hui ke xue yuan chu ban she 天津社会科学出版社.


Further reading

Lahu test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator
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