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Lalo language

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Title: Lalo language  
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Subject: Mango language (Sino-Tibetan), Muangphe language, Hani languages, Classification schemes for Southeast Asian languages, List of endangered languages in China
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Lalo language

Western Yi
Native to China
Ethnicity Yi
Native speakers
320,000  (2002–2010)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Variously:
ywt – Xishanba (Central)
yik – Dongshanba (Eastern, Western, East Mountain Central)
yit – Eastern
ywl – Western (Yangliu, Xuzhang)

Lalo (Chinese: 腊罗; Western Yi) is a Loloish language cluster spoken in western Yunnan, China by 300,000 speakers. Speakers are officially part of the Yi nationality, and Chinese linguists refer to it as "Western Yi" due to its distribution in western Yunnan. Lalo speakers are mostly located in southern Dali Prefecture, especially Weishan County, considered the traditional homeland of the Lalo.[2] Historically, this area is the home of the Meng clan, who ruled the Nanzhao Kingdom (737–902 CE). Many Core Lalo claim to be descendants of the Meng clan.


Cathryn Yang (2010) gives the following demographic information for various Lalo languages. Combined, speakers of Lalo languages number fewer than 300,000 people.


Lama (2012) splits Laluba into three dialects.

  • Misaba
  • (branch)
    • Laloba
    • Laluba (la˨˩lu̠˧pa˨˩)

A recent dialectological survey by Cathryn Yang (2010)[8] shows that the Lalo cluster comprises at least 7 closely related languages. Three of these (Eastern, Western, and Central) constitute the Core Lalo group and are located in the traditional Lalo homeland of southern Dali Prefecture. There are also four peripheral languages, Mangdi, Eka, Yangliu, and Xuzhang, whose ancestors migrated out of the Lalo homeland at different times.

All Lalo languages show a reflex of the Proto-Lalo autonym *la2lo̠Hpa̠ᶫ; i.e. the name that the Proto-Lalo called themselves are still preserved in the various modern Lalo languages. Eka speakers’ autonym is now /o˨˩kʰa˨˦/, but elder speakers remember a time when they called themselves /la˨˩u̠˧po̠˨˩/.

Yang's (2010:209) phylogenetic tree of Lalo is as follows.

  • Proto-Lalo
    • Eka
    • Mangdi 芒底
    • Yangliu 杨柳
    • Greater Lalo
      • Xuzhang 徐掌
      • Core Lalo
        • Eastern
          • Taoshu 桃树
          • Core Eastern
        • Central-Western
          • Central
            • East Mountain
            • Core Central
          • Western
            • Yilu 义路
            • Core Western


  1. ^ Xishanba (Central) at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
    Dongshanba (Eastern, Western, East Mountain Central) at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
    Eastern at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
    Western (Yangliu, Xuzhang) at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Yang, Cathryn. 2009. Regional variation in Lalo: Beyond east and west. La Trobe Papers in Linguistics, 12.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Yang, Cathryn. 2010. Lalo regional varieties: Phylogeny, dialectometry, and sociolinguistics. Melbourne: La Trobe University PhD dissertation.
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