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Habei is spoken in only one village, namely Habei village 哈备村, Zhemi Township 者米乡, Jinping Miao, Yao, and Dai Autonomous County, Yunnan (Jinping County Ethnic Gazetteer 2013:89, 101). The Habei people refer to their village as Kuang An (况安), meaning 'old village' (< kuang 'village' + an 'old').
The Habei still preserve traditional animist rituals.
The Habei language has been documented by Yan (1995) and He & Liu (2011).
- autonym: ma˧nɛ˧ (蛮尼)
- Yao exonym: ta˥ka˧ (单嘎)
- Lahu exonym: xa˦˨pe˥ (哈背)
- Miao exonym: xa˧pe˥˧ (哈备)
- Zhuang exonym: je˧u˥ (牙乌)
- Hani exonym: xa˧pi˥, xa˧bø˥ (哈备)
Habei has 32 onsets and 62 rimes (Yan 1995:67). The consonant inventory is similar to that of standard Hani of Lüchun County, but also has /f/ and /v/, which Lüchun Hani does not have. Final consonants are -p, -t, -k, -m, -n, and -ŋ.
There are 6 tones. In songs, only 4 tones are recognizable (Yan 1995:67).
The following Habei phrase examples are from Yan (1995:69-70). Adjectives follow head nouns.
tɕen˥ ɲi˧˨˧ lum˨˦ bowl two CLS
- Two bowls
ɣa˧ sum˥ na˥ chicken three CLS
- Three chickens
kʰɤ tɕʰɔ˧ ŋa˨˦ tɕuŋ˥ shoe five pair
- Five pairs of shoes
na˧ ŋɤ˧ tɕʰɛ˧˨˧ma˧ 2.SG POS hoe
- Your hoe
ja˧tɕʰa˧˨˧ ŋɤ˧ a˧xɤn˧ friend POS sound
- Friend's voice
The following Habei sentence examples are from Yan (1995:68-69). Habei has SOV word order.
ŋa˧ xaŋ˨˦ iaŋ˨˦ 1.SG rice eat
- I eat rice.
na˧ ti˧kʰa˥ taŋ˥ 2.SG liquor drink
- You drink liquor.
ŋa˧ ja˧pjɔ˥ sum˥ jo˧ tɕa˥ 1.SG children three CLS have
- I have three children.
na˧ jɔ˥ka˥ tɕʰa˥ xa˧lo˧˨˧ lo˧ tɕa˥ 2.SG household people how.many CLS have
- How many people does your household have?
ja˧ la˥ a˧˨˧ la˥ 3.SG come NEG come
- Is he coming?
ve˧˨˧ le˧ ɣa˧ lɔ˧˨˧ dʑɛ˧˨˧za˧˨˧a˥ bɤ˧ pig and chicken both livestock PRT
- Pigs and chickens are both domestic livestock.
- He Shaoming 何绍明; Liu Jieting 刘洁婷. 2011. 国际哈尼/阿卡区域文化调查: 中国金平县者米哈尼族哈备人文化实录. Kunming: Yunnan People's Press 云南人民出版社. ISBN 978-7-222-07408-8
- Yan Hongxin [晏红兴]. 1995. "Jinpingxian Hanizu Habeiren qingkuang diaocha" [金平县哈尼族哈备人情况调查]. In Jinping shaoshu minzu de lishi he wenhua [金平少数民族的历史和文化], p. 59-72. Kunming: Yunnan Ethnic Publishing House [云南民族出版社].
- You Weiqiong [尤伟琼]. 2013. Classifying ethnic groups of Yunnan [云南民族识别研究]. Beijing: Nationalities Press [民族出版社].