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Yi Language Facts and Information

Information About Yi Language

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Yi speakers in the Phrasebase community
Extinct: no
Family: Sino-Tibetan
Branch: Tibeto-Burman
Continent: Asia
Country: China
Region: CENTRAL: Covering much of central Yunnan, including Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, and Simao District. GUIZHOU: Guizhou Province, Weining Yi-Hui-Miao Autonomous County, Dafang Autonomous County, Hezhang County, Pan County; some in the Baise District of western Guangxi. SICHUAN: Mainly in Greater and Lesser Liangshan Mountains, southern Sichuan, southeast Xizang (Xichang). Yangshan is a cultural center. Yi in Gulin County are reported to no longer speak Yi. In northwestern Yunnan. Spoken in over 40 counties. SOUTHEASTERN: Eastern and southeastern Yunnan in the Qujing District and in Honghe Hani-Yi Autonomous Prefecture and Wenshan Zhuang-Miao Autonomous Prefecture. The Sani dialect is in Shilin County just east of Kunming and surrounding counties; the Axi dialect is mainly in Mile County southeast of Kunming. WESTERN: West central Yunnan, over 20 counties. YUNNAN: Central Yunnan, in Yuxi and Simao districts and Honghe Hani-Yi Autonomous Prefecture.
Countries Where Spoken: CENTRAL: 460,000 (1991 EDCL). 6,572,173 in the official Yi nationality (1990 census). GUIZHOU: 800,000 (1991 EDCL). 6,572,173 in official Yi nationality (1990 census). SICHUAN: 1,600,000 speakers (1991 EDCL), out of 6,572,173 in official nationality (1990 census). SOUTHEASTERN: 240,000 (1991 EDCL) including 90,000 Sani, 60,000 to 70,000 Axi, 30,000 to 40,000 Axhebo, 20,000 or more Awu (1999). WESTERN: 300,000 (1991 EDCL). 6,572,173 in official Yi nationality (1990 census). YUNNAN: 800,000 or slightly fewer (1991 EDCL).
Countries Where Official: China
Native Speakers: 6,572,173
Speakers Total: 6,572,173
Phrasebase members who speak Yi at a native level: 0
Phrasebase members who speak Yi at a conversational level: 0
Phrasebase members primary language they are trying to learn is Yi: 0
Phrasebase members secondary language they are trying to learn is Yi: 0
Three Letter Code: YIC
Summary: CENTRAL: A separate language in the Yi official nationality. The 2 dialects are reported to be 80% similar. SOV; 4 tones. Yi syllabary script is not used. Mountain slopes. GUIZHOU: Distinct from other Yi. Intelligibility between dialects is reported to be low. 50% lexical similarity between Yi varieties. Fairly large differences within the varieties also. Dictionary. SOV. SICHUAN: Yi is an official nationality, including at least 6, and possibly 20, languages. The Northern dialect of Sichuan Yi has subdialects Yinuohua, Shengzhahua and Tianbahua. Shengzhahua is said to be understood by 85% of speakers. Differences in phonology, vocabulary, and grammar among the Yi languages. Written Chinese is also used. Yi is the official term for what was formerly called Lolo and other names, all derogatory. "Yi" is used in a broad sense, even at times including languages like the Lisu. At other times it is used in a more narrow sense for only those north of Kunming, Yunnan, and in the Great Cool and Small Cool Mountains of Sichuan. Black Lolo (Hei-I, Hei Kutou) and White Lolo (Pei-I) are caste names and do not refer to linguistic distinctions. Dictionary. Has an official script, the Yi syllabary based on Shenzhahua area, used in the Liangshan area. Plains. Swidden agriculturalists, some animal husbandry. Polytheist, some Christian. SOUTHEASTERN: Intelligibility between dialects is reported to be low. 2 dialects are also called Huami and Wenxi, but it is not known how they correspond to Awu and Axhebo. A major variety of Yi, one of 6 to 20 separate Yi languages. The Samei, an Eastern Yi group east of Kunming in the Guandu region call themselves Sani, but are not part of the Sani in Shilin. Tones differ on the two names, [sa21 ni53] versus [sa21 ni21]. An Eastern Yi group with a similar name call themselves Sanyie, immediately to the west of Kunming in the Xishan region and in Anning County. Plains. Animal husbandry: goats, cattle. Polytheist. WESTERN: A separate language in the Yi official nationality. Vocabulary is reported to be relatively uniform between dialects. Bilingualism in Chinese is reported to be high, especially among young people. Yi syllabary not used. YUNNAN: One of 6 to 20 separate languages in the Yi nationality. There is some dialect variation in Yunnan Yi, but communication is claimed to be possible with all locations. Lexical similarity within Yunnan Yi at least 85%. High bilingualism in Chinese is reported among young people. Derogatory names are "Lolo", "Minchia", "Ichia", "Keikutou", "Peikutou". "Nosu" originally referred to eastern Yi, an elite caste, endogamous, who raised horses; slaves and serfs in a separate caste. Plains. Swidden agriculturalists, some animal husbandry. Polytheist, some Christian. NT 1948.

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