Bu-Nao language

Native toChina
RegionGuangxi, Yunnan, and Guizhou[1]
Native speakers
390,000 (2001)[1]
  • Dongnu (Tung Nu)
  • Nunu (Nu Nu)
  • Bunuo (Pu No)
  • Baonao (Nao Klao)
  • Numao (Nu Mhou)
Latin script
Language codes
ISO 639-3bwx

Bu-Nao, or Bunu proper (Chinese: 布努语 bùnǔyǔ), is a Hmongic (Miao) dialect cluster spoken in Guangxi, Yunnan, and Guizhou in China. Its speakers are among the Bunu (Chinese: 布努): ethnic Yao (Mien) speakers of Miao languages.


The Bunu people are the Yao people who speak Hmongic languages. That is, Bunu in the broad sense is a cultural rather than linguistic group. Strecker (1987) had classified Bu-Nao (Bunu proper) as a Western (Chuanqiandian) Hmongic language, and the other Bunu languages—Younuo (Yuno), Wunai (Hm Nai), and Jiongnai (Kiong Nai)—as distinct branches of Hmongic. Matisoff (2001) grouped all of these together in a Bunu branch of Hmongic (that is, outside Western Hmongic). Ratliff (2010) returned Bu-Nao to Western Hmongic, and moved Jiongnai to its own peripheral branch of Hmongic, but did not address Younuo or Wunai.[3] Chinese sources generally do not treat the languages as Hmongic because the speakers are not ethnic Miao, but Wang & Deng (2003) classify Bunao as a cousin of Western Hmongic, and Jiongnai and Younuo as independent branches.[4]


Bu-Nao dialects include:[1]

  • Bunu 布努 (Pu Nu) - 359,474 speakers; representative dialect: Nongjing, Qibainong Township, Dahua County 大化七百弄乡弄京
    • Dongnu 东努 (Tung Nu, autonyms: no˨, tuŋ˩no˨) - 293,489 speakers in Funing County, Yunnan (in Longshao 龙绍, etc.) and northern Guangxi: Du'an (in Meizhu 梅珠, etc.), Dahua, Bama, Pingguo, Tiandong, Mashan, Debao, Long'an, Baise, Tianyang, Donglan, Hechi, Shanglin, Xicheng, Yishan, Laibin. In Funing County, they are known as Buzha 布咋 (their autonym) or the Mountain Yao 山瑶.[5]
    • Nunu 努努 (Nu Nu, autonyms: no˨no˨, po˧no˨) - 53,870 speakers in northwestern Guangxi: Lingyun (in Taohua 陶化, etc.), Fengshan, Donglan, Bama (in Xishan 西山, etc.), Tianlin, Leye
    • Bunuo 布诺 (Pu No, autonym: pu˧no˨) - 12,115 speakers in Du'an (in Sanzhiyang 三只羊; Longma 龙麻 of Xia'ao 下坳乡,[6] etc.), Guangxi
  • Baonao 包瑙 (Nao Klao, Naogelao 瑙格劳,[5] autonyms: pou˧nou˨, [tɔ˩] m̥ɔu˩tlou˩) - 28,952 speakers in Nandan, Hechi, and Tian'e in Guangxi as well as Libo County, Guizhou; representative dialect: Lihu Township, Nandan County 南丹里湖瑶族乡
  • Numao 努茂 (Nu Mhou, autonym: nu˨m̥ou˩) - 1,715 speakers in Libo County, Guizhou; representative dialect: Yaolu Township, Libo County 荔波瑶麓瑶族乡
    • Numao 努茂 (Nu Mhou, White-Trouser Yao 白裤瑶,[5] autonym: nu˨m̥ou˩) - about 1,200 speakers in the townships of Yaolu 瑶麓 and Jiarong 佳荣
    • Dongmeng 冬孟 (Long-Shirt Yao 长衫瑶,[5] autonym: toŋ˩nu˨, toŋ˩m̥uŋ˩) - about 400 speakers in the townships of Maolan 茂兰, Dongtang, 洞塘, and Weng'ang 翁昂

These add up to a total number of 390,000 speakers.

The Guizhou Province Gazetteer (2002) lists the following autonyms for these villages in Libo County, Guizhou.[7]

  • nu˥m̥au˧: Yaolu 瑶麓
  • təu˥m̥u˥: Yaoshan 瑶山
  • tuŋ˧m̥uŋ˧: Yao'ai 瑶埃

The Yunnan Province Gazetteer (1989) reports that a Bunu dialect known as pu˥ʐa˩ (布咋) is spoken by about 7,000 people in Guichao 归朝乡 and Dongbo 洞波瑶族乡 (including in Dadongzhai 大洞寨, Saxiangdong Village 三湘洞村[8]) townships of Funing County, Yunnan.

The Shaoyang Prefecture Gazetteer (1997:533) reports that the Miao of Xinning County, Hunan, speak a Bunu-branch language.

Intelligibility among these varieties is difficult, and they may be separate languages. Strecker (1987) went so far as to suggest they may not form a group at all, but separate languages within West Hmongic.[9]


The following peoples may also speak Bunu languages.[10]

  • Beidalao 北大老: 15,000 (1990) in Rong'an County and Rongshui County, Guangxi; probably Bunu, though divergent[11]
  • Beidongnuo 被动诺: 244 (1984) in Libo County, Guizhou; likely a variety of Nagelao (Nao Klao).[12] Identified as Dongmeng by Bradley (2007).[13]
  • Changpao 长袍: 5,000 (1999) in southern Guizhou; undetermined linguistic affiliation, but could possibly be Bunu.[14] Identified as Dongmeng by Bradley (2007).[13]
  • Youmai 优迈: 2,000 (1999) in southwestern Guizhou; possibly a Bunu variety;[15] classified as Pingtang Miao by Li Yunbing (2000)[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c 蒙朝吉 / Meng Chaoji. 2001. 瑤族布努语方言研究 / Yao zu Bunu yu fang yan yan jiu [A Study of the Bunu Dialects of the Yao People]. Beijing: 民族出版社 / Min zu chu ban she.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Bu-Nao Bunu". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Ratliff, Martha. 2010. Hmong–Mien language history. Canberra, Australia: Pacific Linguistics.
  4. ^ 王士元、邓晓华,《苗瑶语族语言亲缘关系的计量研究——词源统计分析方法》,《中国语文》,2003(294)。
  5. ^ a b c d http://yaozu.baike.com/article-71835.html
  6. ^ 龙麻布努语语音系统
  7. ^ Guizhou Province Gazetteer: Ethnic Gazetteer [贵州省志. 民族志] (2002). Guiyang: Guizhou Ethnic Publishing House [貴州民族出版社].
  8. ^ http://www.ynszxc.gov.cn/villagePage/vIndex.aspx?departmentid=46763
  9. ^ Strecker, David. 1987. Some Comments on Benedict's "Miao–Yao Enigma: The Na-e Language". In Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area, 10 , no. 2: 22–42.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-08-01. Retrieved 2013-07-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ http://asiaharvest.org/wp-content/themes/asia/docs/people-groups/China/chinaPeoples/B/Beidalao.pdf
  12. ^ http://asiaharvest.org/wp-content/themes/asia/docs/people-groups/China/chinaPeoples/B/Beidongnuo.pdf
  13. ^ a b Bradley, David. 2007. "East and Southeast Asia." In Moseley, Christopher (ed). Encyclopedia of the World's Endangered Languages. New York: Routledge.
  14. ^ http://asiaharvest.org/wp-content/themes/asia/docs/people-groups/China/chinaPeoples/C/Changpao.pdf
  15. ^ http://asiaharvest.org/wp-content/themes/asia/docs/people-groups/China/chinaPeoples/Y/Youmai.pdf
  16. ^ 李云兵,《苗语方言划分遗留问题研究》,中央民族大学出版社,2000年。

External links[edit]