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Bolyu language

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Title: Bolyu language  
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Subject: Pakanic languages, Austroasiatic languages, Languages of China, Bumang language, Phai language
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Bolyu language

Native to China
Region Longlin County, Guangxi
Native speakers
500  (2007)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 ply
Glottolog boly1239[2]

The Bolyu language (autonym: pɔ33 lju13; Chinese: 巴琉语, 布流语; also known as Paliu, Palyu, or Lai 俫语, 徕语) is an Austroasiatic language of the Pakanic branch (Sidwell 1995). In 1984, Bolyu was first studied by Liang Min of the Nationalities Research Institute in Beijing. Liang was the first to suggest the Mon–Khmer affiliation of Bolyu, which was later confirmed by Western linguists such as Paul K. Benedict, Paul Sidwell, and Jerold A. Edmondson.


Bolyu is related to the Bugan language, forming the Pakanic branch along with it. However, the place of the Pakanic branch within the Mon–Khmer family is uncertain. Sidwell (1995) suggests that the Pakanic branch may be an Eastern Mon–Khmer branch, thus making it most closely related to the Vietic branch. However, Gérard Diffloth classifies Pakanic as Northern Mon–Khmer, making it most closely related to the Palaungic branch.[3]


Bolyu speakers are found in the following locations in southern China (Edmondson 1995).[4][5]

  • Douhong 斗烘屯, Xinhe 新合村, Changfa township 长发, Longlin County, Guangxi (often living with Gelao neighbors). Also spoken in the nearby townships of Kechang 克长, De'e 德峨, and Changme 长么.[6]
    • Xinhe 新合村 - Datiezhai 打铁寨、Changfajie 长发街: 50 speakers
    • Xinhua 新华村 - Luowan 罗湾: 300; Kabao 卡保、Renshang 仁上: 160 speakers
    • Villages with only Bolyu people: Muzi 亩子, Dazhai 大寨, Xiaozhai 小寨
  • Guosha/Hengsha 过沙/亨沙, Wenya 文雅村, Puhe Miao Autonomous Township 普合苗族自治乡, Xilin County, Guangxi. Also spoken in Naya 那牙, Badahe Township 八大河乡.[6] 230 speakers total.
  • Guangnan County, Wenshan Prefecture, Yunnan: Heizhiguo Township 黑支果乡 and Babao Township 八宝乡.[6] The Bolyu of Guangnan County are officially classified as Yi.
    • Heizhiguo Township 黑支果乡:
      • Mulang 木浪村:[7] Jilai 吉赖[8] (Bolyu pop. 137)、Xinfazhai 新发寨[9] (Bolyu pop. 233)
      • Yilang 夷郎村: Mudilang 木底浪[10] (Bolyu pop. 150)
      • Xinjie 新街村: Mulou 木娄[11] (Bolyu pop. 139)、Mulong 木聋[12] (Bolyu pop. 115)
    • Babao Township 八宝乡 in Yangliushu 杨柳树村: Wabiao 瓦标[13] (Bolyu pop. 119) 、Muliang 木良[14] (Bolyu pop. 113)

In the following villages, only elderly speakers of Bolyu remain.

  • Zhelang township 者浪乡: Zhezhai 者寨、Langrong 郎荣、Linghao 岭好
  • Kechang township 克场乡: Haichang 海长
  • Shechang township 蛇场乡: Daguo 达果

1,400 Bolyu reside in Guangxi, and over 1,000 in Yunnan.[6]


Bolyu is a monosyllabic tonal language like the surrounding Tai–Kadai and Hmong–Mien languages. Unlike Bugan, Bolyu does not have a tense–lax voice quality distinction.

Bolyu has a total of six tones (Edmondson 1995).
Bolyu Tones
Tone number Tone contour
1 ˥
2 ˧
3 ˩
4 ˥˧
5 ˧˩
6 ˩˧

There are 7 vowels in Bolyu (Edmondson 1995): /a, e, ə, i, o, ɔ, u/.

Bolyu allows for a large variety of consonant clusters, and has 8 possible consonantal finals (Sidwell 1995): -p, -t, -k, -m, -n, -ŋ, -w, -j.


  1. ^ Bolyu at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Bolyu". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ 俫语使用人口稳定增长原因探究。
  5. ^ Li Xulian [李旭练]. 1999. A Study of Lai (Bolyu) [倈语硏究]. Beijing: Minzu University Press [中央民族大学出版社].
  6. ^ a b c d 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].
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  • Benedict, Paul K. 1990. "How to Tell Lai: an exercise in classification." Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area. 13/2:1-26.
  • Edmondson, Jerold A. 1995. "English-Bolyu glossary." Mon–Khmer Studies 24: 133-159.
  • Edmondson, Jerold A. and Kenneth J. Gregerson. 1996. "Bolyu tone in Vietic perspective." Mon–Khmer Studies 26: 117-33.
  • Sidwell, Paul. 1995. "Bolyu is a Mon–Khmer language: even if Benedict says so!" La Trobe working papers in linguistics. Volume 8 (1995). Bundoora, Victoria: Linguistics Program, La Trobe University.
  • Jiang Jun [蒋俊]. 2005. Ethnic group and nation in the village vision: Field research about Lai people [村落视野中的族群与民族:关于俫人的田野研究]. M.A. dissertation, Guangxi Normal University.
  • 俫语使用人口稳定增长原因探究. In 中国少数民族语言使用现状及其演变研究.

External links

  • Bolyu vocabulary from SEAlang
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