Central Loloish languages

Central Loloish
Central Ngwi
Ethnicity Yi people
Southern China, Northern Vietnam, Northern Thailand, Laos, Myanmar
Linguistic classification


Glottolog None

The Central Loloish languages, also known as Central Ngwi, is a branch of Loloish languages in Bradley (1997). It is not used in Lama's (2012) classification. Central Loloish is also not supported in Satterthwaite-Phillips' (2011) computational phylogenetic analysis of the Lolo-Burmese languages.[1]


Lama (2012) considers Central Loloish to be paraphyletic, and splits up Bradley's (1997) Central Loloish into the following independent branches of Loloish. The Lawu language group has been added from Yang (2012)[2] and Hsiu (2017).[3]

Lisoish is the largest and most diverse group. Jinuo is classified as a Hanoish (Southern Loloish) language in Lama (2012).


Pelkey (2011:367) lists the following as Central Ngwi innovations.

  • Proto-Ngwi tone categories 1 and 2: tone splitting that is widespread
  • Proto-Ngwi tone category 2 splits to *glottal-prefixed initials (higher-pitched reflexes) and *non-glottal-prefixed initials (lower-pitched reflexes; with a subsequent flip-flop in Lahu)
  • Proto-Ngwi tone category L prefixed stop initials > high/rising pitch reflexes
  • Family group classifiers paradigmatized with disyllabic forms, vowel leveling, and other systemic changes
  • Burmic extentive paradigm is moderately grammaticalized; more than Southern Ngwi, but fewer than Northern Ngwi
  • Lexical innovations for 'dog' and 'fire'


  1. Satterthwaite-Phillips, Damian. 2011. Phylogenetic inference of the Tibeto-Burman languages or On the usefulness of lexicostatistics (and "Megalo"-comparison) for the subgrouping of Tibeto-Burman. Ph.D. dissertation, Stanford University.
  2. 1 2 Yang, Cathryn. 2012. Phonology sketch and classification of Lawu, an undocumented Ngwi language of Yunnan. In Linguistic Discovery, Volume 10, Issue 2, Year 2012. Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College.
  3. 1 2 Hsiu, Andrew. 2017. The Lawu languages: footprints along the Red River valley corridor.
  • Bradley, David (1997). "Tibeto-Burman languages and classification". In Tibeto-Burman languages of the Himalayas, Papers in South East Asian linguistics. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  • Lama, Ziwo Qiu-Fuyuan (2012). Subgrouping of Nisoic (Yi) Languages. Ph.D. thesis, University of Texas at Arlington.
  • Pelkey, Jamin. 2011. Dialectology as Dialectic: Interpreting Phula Variation. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
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