Buyang language

Native to China
Region Yunnan
Ethnicity Buyang people
Native speakers
1,500 (1997–2000)[2]
  • Kra

    • Yang–Biao
      • Buyang
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Variously:
yzg  E'ma Buyang
yln  Langnian Buyang
enc  En
yrn  Yalang (Yerong)
Glottolog buya1244[3]

Buyang (Chinese: 布央语) is a Tai–Kadai language spoken in Guangnan and Funing counties, Yunnan Province, China by the Buyang people.[4] It is important to the reconstruction of Austro-Tai as it retains the disyllabic roots characteristic of Austronesian languages. Examples are /matɛ́/ "to die", /matá/ "eye", /qaðù/ "head", and /maðû/ "eight". (See Austro-Tai for proposed connections.)

The Buyang language was only discovered in 1990 by Chinese linguist Liang Min. In 1999, a doctoral dissertation and book was published for Buyang. The book has also recently been translated into English.

Many speakers of Buyang are also fluent in Zhuang.[5]


The Buyang (布央) dialect cluster is spoken by a total of around 2,000 people living mostly in the Gula (谷拉) River valley of southeastern Yunnan Province, China. It is spoken in at least 8 villages[6] in Gula Township 谷拉乡, Funing County 富宁县, Wenshan Zhuang–Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan, China. Buyang is divided into the following groups:[5]

Weera Ostapirat (2000) splits the Buyang language into two branches:[6]

Ostapirat also classifies Buyang and Qabiao together as Eastern Kra, while Paha is classified as Central Kra. Together, the two branches form one of the two primary Kra branches, namely Central-East Kra. The En language has also been recently included in Eastern Kra (also called Yang–Biao, from [Bu]yang–[Pu]biao).

Li (2010) divides the Buyang language as follows:[7]


Western (Paha)

Languages closely related to Buyang include Qabiao, En, and also Paha if considered a separate language.


Further information: Paha language § Phonology

Diachronic evolution of consonants

Pre-Buyang, the stage in the evolution of the language that can be reconstructed from internal evidence, appears to have had a slightly different phonemic inventory than the modern dialects: a voiced stop *ɢ paired with *q,[17] as well as voiced *ɦ alongside *h,[18] and a pair of sibilants *s, *z.[19] In addition, it doesn't appear to have had a series of aspirated consonants, a condition still found in the Ecun dialect.[20] Thus reconstructed pre-Buyang is more similar in its phonemic inventory to reconstructed Proto-Austronesian than its any modern dialect of Buyang.


  1. David Holm : Killing a Buffalo for the Ancestors. Southeast Asia Publications, Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, 2003. p. 15, fn. 36
  2. E'ma Buyang at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Langnian Buyang at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    En at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Yalang (Yerong) at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Buyang". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. Raymond G. Gordon, Jr, ed. 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 15th edition. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics.
  5. 1 2 Diller, Anthony, Jerold A. Edmondson, and Yongxian Luo ed. The Tai–Kadai Languages. Routledge Language Family Series. Psychology Press, 2008.
  6. 1 2 Ostapirat, Weera (2000). "Proto-Kra". Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 23 (1): 1-251
  7. 1 2 Li Jinfang and Luo Yongxian. The Buyang language of South China: grammatical notes, glossary, texts and translations. Pacific Linguistics Publishers, Australian National University, 2010.
  17. "the ancient Buyang language must have had a voiced stop *G contrasting to *q. The Duolo dialect of Gelao, a language related to Buyang, now still has ... G." (Li & Zhou, p. 116, § 2)
  18. "Ancient Buyang had ... *ɦ." (Li & Zhou, p. 125, § 4)
  19. "Ancient Buyang had a contrastive pair of voiceless and voiced ... *s, *z, which are very common in modern Ge–Yang" (Li & Zhou, p. 124, § 4)
  20. "Ancient Buyang didn't have any aspirated consonants. Later, ... aspirated consonants were created in some dialects, but in Ecun dialect, no aspirated consonants appeared at all." (Li & Zhou, p. 132, § 8)


External links

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