Hani language

Native toSouthern China, Vietnam, Laos, Burma
Native speakers
760,000 (2007, 1999, 1995)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3hni

The Hani language (Hani: Haqniqdoq or xa˧˩ɲi˧˩; simplified Chinese: 哈尼语; traditional Chinese: 哈尼語; pinyin: Hāníyǔ; Vietnamese: Tiếng Hà Nhì) is a language of the Loloish (Yi) branch of the Tibeto-Burman linguistic group spoken in China, Laos, and Vietnam by the Hani people.


In China, Hani is spoken mostly in areas to the east of the Mekong River in south-central Yunnan province, mostly in Pu'er and Honghe prefectures, as well as in parts of other surrounding prefectures. Hani is also spoken in Lai Châu and Lào Cai provinces of northwestern Vietnam and in Phongsaly Province of Laos along the border with Yunnan.

Edmondson (2002) reports that the Hani of Vietnam are distributed in 2 provinces of northwestern Vietnam where two distinct dialects are found, one east of Muong Te and the other to the west. The Hani of Vietnam claim to be able to communicate in the Hani language with ethnic Hani from different areas of Vietnam despite significant geographical barriers. Edmondson (2002), reported that the different Hani speech varieties in Vietnam differ mostly in lexicon.


Hani has three main tones and two types of short vowels.


Consonants of the Luchun dialect
Labial Alveolar (Alveolo-)
plain pal.
Plosive voiceless p t k
aspirated pʰʲ
voiced b d ɡ
Affricate voiceless ts
aspirated tsʰ tɕʰ
voiced dz
Fricative voiceless f s ɕ x
voiced z ɣ
Nasal m n ȵ ŋ
Approximant l j


Vowel length is also distinctive.[3]

Vowels of the Luchun dialect
Front Central Back
High i ɯ u
Mid e ø ɤ o
Low a
Syllabic ɹ̩
Front Back
Diphthong Close ue
Mid ie
Open ia ua


Sign for the Lihaozhai Township High School, in Jianshui County, Yunnan, written in Hani (alphabetic), Yi (syllabic) and Chinese. The Chinese, if transcribed in Hanyu Pinyin, would be Jianshuixian Lihaozhai zhongxue.

Oral tradition tells of an ancient written script for Hani but says it was lost when the Hani migrated from Sichuan. In China, Standard Hani, which is based on the Lüchun County dialect, is written using a Romanized script developed by the Chinese government during the 1950s. As with the Latin-based scripts of the Zhuang, Hmong and Iu Mien languages, it uses final consonant letters to represent tone.

Consonants in Hani orthography are pronounced the same as in pinyin, with two additional digraphs for voiced fricatives in Hani. The IPA equivalents for letters in Hani orthography are provided below (Zhang 1998).[4]

Hani IPA
hh ɣ
ss z

The vowels in Hani orthography are as follows.[4] After vowels, -v is used to mark tense vowels.

Hani IPA
a a
ao ɔ
e ɤ
ee ɯ
ei e
i i
o o
u u
yu ø
ii ɨ

There are four tones, which are marked by letters at the ends of words, or not at all for the mid-level [33].[4] Numerical Chao tones are provided below.

Hani IPA
l [55] (high level)
(none) [33] (mid level)
q [31] (low falling)
f [24] (rising)

Sample text[edit]

Hani English
Aqsol liq yoqdeivq yoqpyuq bo, meeqyaovq ssolnei colpyuq qiq kov dei. Davqtavcolssaq neenyuq bel neema meeq ya siq, laongaoq meilnaol nadul meil e gaq ssol hhyul hha bavqduv nia. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hani at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Hani". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Yongsui, Li; Ersong, Wang (1986). 哈尼语简志 / Ha ni yu jian zhi. Beijing: Minzu Chubanshe. pp. 3–16.
  4. ^ a b c Zhang Peizhi [张佩芝]. 1998. Comparative vocabulary lists of the Ha-Ya dialects of the Hani language [哈尼语哈雅方言土语词汇对照]. Kunming: Yunnan Ethnic Publishing House [云南民族出版社].
  • Edmondson, Jerold A. 2002. "The Central and Southern Loloish Languages of Vietnam". Proceedings of the Twenty-Eighth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society: Special Session on Tibeto-Burman and Southeast Asian Linguistics (2002), pp. 1–13.
  • Li Yongsui [李永燧]. 1986. A sketch of the Hani language [哈尼语简志]. Beijing: Ethnic Publishing House [民族出版社].
  • Tạ Văn Thông, Lê Đông. 2001. Tiếng Hà Nhì. Hà Nội: Nhà xuất bản văn hóa dân tộc.
  • Yang Shihua [杨世华]; Bai Bibo [白碧波]. 2003. A study of the culture of the Hani people of Yuxi City [玉溪哈尼族文化研究]. Kunming: Yunnan Nationalities Press [云南民族出版社]. ISBN 7-5367-2652-X

External links[edit]