Jump to content
  • Sign Up

Yi languages and scripts


Recommended Posts



Can You Get There from Here?
Stevan Harrell


When I was planning to begin field research among minority groups in Southwest China, I looked for a group that was not much written about in English, but whose language was fairly convenient to study. I chose the Nuosu, a group that is part of the larger ethnic classification of Yi, mostly because I was able to get hold of a textbook and some conversation tapes. When people outside China hear that I can speak the Nuosu language, their first two questions are almost always: “How close is it to Mandarin (or to Chinese)?” and “does it have tones?”...


From an excellent article in LARB's China Channel , even includes a link to a sample of spoken Nuosu. 

Among many other interesting articles on all things China, unmissable



  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

After I graduated I first came back to China to work as a volunteer in rural development in a mixed Han-Yi area just north of the Da Liangshan and we worked with several Yi villages, so sparked an interest in the language and culture which still sporadically maintain, have a copy of one of the author of that article's books, Perspectives on the Yi. Thanks for posting!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have some of the huge Yi dictionaries mentioned in the article. They really are bizarre - it is mind-boggling to think how much work must have gone into creating them, yet the number of people who could use them (that is, are able to use Yi script) is very small (not sure about numbers, but the tens of thousands would be an order of magnitude estimate), and the number of people who would use them is only a miniscule fraction of that (given that most Yi speakers have little interest in writing their language anyway).




  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...