Naish languages

Yunnan and Sichuan
Linguistic classification Sino-Tibetan
Glottolog nais1236[1]

The Naish languages are a low-level subgroup of Sino-Tibetan languages that include Naxi, Na (Mosuo), and Laze.


The Naish languages are:

In turn, Naish together with Namuyi and Shixing constitutes the Naic subgroup within Sino-Tibetan.

Arguments for relatedness include irregular morphotonology: tone patterns of numeral-plus-classifier phrases that constitute shared structural properties. Since these similarities are phonetically nontransparent, they cannot be due to borrowing.[2]


Note that in Mainland China, the term "Naxi" is commonly used for the entire language group, e.g. by the influential linguistic introduction by He and Jiang (2015).[3][4] The terms "Naish" and "Naic" are derived from the endonym Na used by speakers of several of the languages. These concepts were initially proposed by Guillaume Jacques & Alexis Michaud (2011).[5] Phylogenetic issues are summarized in the entry about the Naic subgroup. For a review of the literature about Naish languages, see Li (2015).[6]

Lexical innovations

Jacques & Michaud (2011) list the following words as Naish lexical innovations.

to stumble pe˧kʰɯ.piᴹ*(S)pa
cloud ki˩tɕi˧tɕi˩sɯ˥*ki
village hi˧mbe˧fv̩.biᴸɖɯ˧bie˧*mba
Bai people le˧bv̩˧ɬ̩ᴹ*Sla
noble sɯ.pʰiᴹsɯ˩pʰie˩*si pʰa
(2nd syllable)
ʈʂʰɚ˧ɯ˧ʈʂʰæ.ɯᴴtsʰɯ˧fi˧*rtsʰi Swri


Proto-Naish, the proto-language ancestral to the Naish languages, has been reconstructed by Jacques & Michaud (2011).

See also


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Naish". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. Michaud, Alexis (2011). "The tones of numerals and numeral-plus-classifier phrases: on structural similarities between Naxi, Na and Laze". Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area. 34: 1–26 via Hyper Articles en Ligne.
  3. He Jiren 和即仁 & Jiang Zhuyi 姜竹仪. 1985. Naxiyu Jianzhi 纳西语简志 (A Brief Description of the Naxi Language). Beijing 北京: Minzu Chubanshe 民族出版社.
  4. Michaud, Alexis, He Limin & Zhong Yaoping. 2015. "Naxi / Naish." In Rint Sybesma, Wolfgang Behr, Zev Handel & C.T. James Huang (eds.), Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics. Leiden: Brill.
  5. Jacques, Guillaume, and Alexis Michaud. 2011. "Approaching the historical phonology of three highly eroded Sino-Tibetan languages: Naxi, Na and Laze." Diachronica 28:468-498.
  6. Li Zihe 李子鹤. 2015. 纳西语言研究回顾——兼论语言在文化研究中的基础地位 (A review of Naxi language studies, with a discussion of the fundamental role of cultural studies for linguistic research). 茶马古道研究期刊 4. 125–131.
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