|Native to||China (Guizhou, Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces)|
|2.7 million (2000 census)|
Geographic distribution of Bouyei language
The Bouyei language (autonym: Haausqyaix, also spelled Buyi, Buyei or Puyi;Chinese: ; pinyin: , Vietnamese: ti?ng B? Y or ti?ng Giáy) is a language spoken by the Bouyei ethnic group of Southern Guizhou Province, China. Classified as a member of the Northern Tai group in the Tai language branch of the Tai-Kadai language family, the language has over 2.5 million native speakers and is also used by the Giay people (Vietnamese: Giáy) in some parts of Vietnam. There are native speakers living in France or the United States as well, which emigrated from China or Vietnam. About 98% of the native speakers are in China.
Bouyei's characteristics are similar to the other members of its language branch. It is generally monosyllabic and word order and particles are the main forms of grammar. Bouyei's syllable initials match up closely to the other Northern Tai languages, with relatively fast simplification and merging. Bouyei sentences can be shown to contain many different levels of phrasing.
The contemporary Bouyei script was developed after the abandonment of the Bouyei-Zhuang Script Alliance Policy in 1981 and was designed from 1981 to 1985. It is focused and phonologically representative and takes the Wangmo County dialect as its foundation.
According to a 1950s survey performed by the Chinese government, the Bouyei language as spoken in Guizhou can be divided into three general dialect groups (Snyder 2008). Note that ? ( ) is an abbreviation for Guizhou.
Wu, Snyder, & Liang (2007) is the most comprehensive Bouyei survey to date, and covers the following data points.
The Yei Zhuang varieties of Wenshan Prefecture, Yunnan are closely related to the Bouyei varieties of Guizhou. Many other languages outside China with the names "Yei", "Yay", "Yoy", are also closely related.
Bouyei is also spoken in northern Vietnam, where it is known as Giáy. Edmondson and Gregerson (2001) has determined their language to be most similar to the Bouyei dialects of southwest Guizhou. The Giáy are an officially recognized group in Vietnam who now number nearly 50,000. Some household registries of the Giáy of Vietnam indicate that their ancestors had left Guizhou 160 years ago during the Qing Dynasty, and traveled overland to southern Yunnan and then Vietnam (Edmondson & Gregerson 2001). This coincides with the Miao Rebellion (1854-73) of Guizhou. The Giáy are found in the following locations of Vietnam.
The Giáy of Mng Khng District who call themselves Tudì [thu zi] can only speak a form of Chinese, and no Giáy. Their autonym comes from their ancestral place of origin, which is Duyun of Guizhou province, China. According to their household records, they had arrived in Maguan County and in Honghe Prefecture about 200 years ago. Similarly, some Giáy of Vietnam report that they have relatives still living in Hekou, Yunnan province, China (Edmondson & Gregerson 2001).
The Pu N? people of Tam ng District, Lai Châu Province, Vietnam call themselves the V?n N? (with v?n meaning 'people'), and number about 5,000 individuals (Lò 2012:11-20). They are also called Quý Châu (Guizhou ), Sa Quý Châu, C?i Chu, Pu Y, or Pâu Thìn. The Pu N? live in the following villages of Tam ng District (Lò 2012:18).
The Yay language described by William J. Gedney is in fact the Giáy dialect of Mng Hum, Bát Xát District, Lào Cai (Edmondson & Gregerson 2001). There are also other related Northern Tai languages spoken in Vietnam as well, such B? Y, Nhang, and Quy Châu (possibly closely related to Tai Mène of Laos). The B? Y had originally came from around Wangmo County in southwestern Guizhou. Some subgroups of B? Y call themselves the Pu Na or Pu Thin, meaning 'people of the paddy field'.
The Bouyei script recognizes 32 consonants, with names formed by the consonant in an initial position followed by a long "a" vowel.
|Labials||b /p/||p /p?/||mb /?/||m /m/||f /f/||v /v/~[w]|
|Apicals||d /t/||t /t?/||nd /?/||n /n/||sl /?/||l /l/|
|Velars||g /k/||k /k?/||ng /?/||h /x/||hr /?/|
|Palatals||j /t?/||q /t/||ny /?/||x /?/||y /j/|
|Affricates||z /ts/||c /ts?/||s /s/~[?]||r /z/~[ð]|
|Palatalized||by /p?/||my /m?/||qy /?j/|
|Labialized||gv /k?/||ngv //||qv /?v/~[?w]|
Beige: sl and hr are used for sounds that occur only in certain dialects.
V is pronounced as a [w] before a "u".
An absent consonant may produce a glottal sound /?/. /?/ is also heard as a final sound.
Bouyei has 77 vowels and diphthongs.
|"Level" syllables||a /a/||o /o/||ee /e/~[?]||i /i/||u /u/||e /?/~[?]|
|aai /a:i/||ai /?i/||oi /oi/||ei /?i/|
|aau /a:u/||au /?u/||eeu /eu/||iu /iu/|
|ae //||ie /i?/||ue /u?/||ea //|
|aam /a:m/||am /?m/||oom /om/||om /?m/||eem /em/||iam /i?m/||im /im/||uam /u?m/||um /um/||eam /m/|
|aan /a:n/||an /?n/||oon /on/||on /?n/||een /en/||ian /i?n/||in /in/||uan /u?n/||un /un/||ean /n/||en /?n/~[?n]|
|aang /a:?/||ang //||oong /o?/||ong //||eeng /e?/||iang /i/||ing /i?/||uang /u/||ung /u?/||eang //||eng //~|
|"Entering" syllables||aab /a:p/||ab /?p/||oob /op/||ob /?p/||eeb /ep/||iab /i?p/||ib /ip/||uab /u?p/||ub /up/||eab /p/|
|aad /a:t/||ad /?t/||ood /ot/||od /?t/||eed /et/||iad /i?t/||id /it/||uad /u?t/||ud /ut/||ead /t/||ed /?t/~[?t]|
|ag /?k/||og /?k/||eeg /ek/||ig /ik/||ug /uk/||eg /?k/~[?k]|
The endings er /?/, ao /au/, ou /?u/, ia /ia/, io /io/, iao /i?u/, ua /ua/, uai /u?i/, and ui /ui/ are used in writing Chinese loanwords.
Vowels /i u/ may also have allophones of [? ?].
Another vowel sound [æ] may occur phonemically in the dialects of Anshun, Qinglong, Shuicheng, Zhenning, and Ziyun.
|#||Name||Contour||Marking letter||Corresponding Southwest Mandarin Tone||Loanword Marking letter|
|4||Light rising||x||Light level||f|
|6||Light departing||?||h||Dark level||y|
Marking letters are placed at the end of syllables to indicate tone. Loanword marking letters y, f, j, and q match with Mandarin tones 1, 2, 3, and 4 respectively.
Bouyei shows de-voicing of Proto-Tai-Kadai's voiced consonants (*b -> /p/, *d -> /t/, *? -> /k/), and loss of aspiration.
|Proto-Tai-Kadai||*?n, *n?||*t||*?d||*d?, *d||*n|
|Dark tone||Light tone|
Proto-Tai-Kadai's tones experienced a splitting into modern Bouyei, shown in the following table.
|Proto-Tai-Kadai||*?n, *n?||*t||*?d||*d?, *d||*n|
|PTK Level tone||Dark level||Light level|
|PTK Rising tone||Dark rising||Light rising|
|PTK Departing tone||Dark departing||Light departing|
|PTK Entering tone||Dark entering||Light entering|
Ancient Bouyei writing was created by borrowing elements from Chinese characters or by mimicking their forms, and is similar to Sawndip. Items collected were mostly Shaman's books of the Buyi ancestors, which were used to select auspicious days, lucky numbers and directions, and divination. The scriptures also produced Nuo books and literary works. The Nuo scripts have been widely circulated among the Buyi people in Libo region for more than a thousand years to praise goodness, condamn evil, avocate filialiation, and to promote truth, kindness and beauty; and these have become the code of conduct among the local Buyei people.  The epic poem Wang Yulian was a literary work that is believed to be the retelling of a Chinese story in Buyei language. Its manual copies are popular in Zhexiang Township, Wangmo County in Buyei and Miao Autonomous Prefecture in Southwest Guizhou.?
In November 1956, a scientific conference was held in Guiyang to discuss the creation and implementation of a Latin-based alphabet for Bouyei. The result was a script similar some Zhuang romanizations that used the Longli County dialect as its base. The script was approved by the Chinese government and was put into use in 1957, though its use ceased in 1960.
In 1981 a conference on Bouyei history revised the script developed in 1956 in an attempt to make it more practical and phonologically representative of Wangmo County speech. It also was approved by the Chinese government, and was adopted on an experimental basis in 1982. Feedback was largely positive, and the script was officially brought into use in March 1985 and continues to be used to the present.
Old and current Bouyei Romanization comparisons
|b||b||/p/||?||mb||/?/||m||m||/m/||f||f||/f/||v||v, qv||/v, ?v/|
|gy||j||/t?/||ny||ny||/n?/||x||x||/?/||y||y, qy||/j, ?j/|
Tone Marking Letters
|#||Old||Zhuang||Bouyei||Yangchang Dialect||Fuxing Dialect|
|7||(p, t, k)||(p, t, k)||(b, d, g)t||33 (long), 35 (short)||35|
|8||(b, d, g)||(b, d, g)||(b, d, g)||53 (long), 11 (short)||33|
The story of Wang Yulian tells that Wang Yulian was forced to join the army by Wang Erniang, and his mother and wife were also forced to beg in street. After Wang Yulian became well-established, with the help of the government, he punished Wang Erniang and reunited with his mother and wife.