Hmong Mien languages

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The Hmong-Mien or Miao-Yao languages form a small group of genetically related languages ​​that are mainly spoken in southern China, but also in northern Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. This includes around 20 languages ​​with around 14-15 million speakers. Hmong (Miao) and Mien (Yao) form the two main branches of this language family . Another language - the She or Ho Nte - could represent a third branch.

Spread of the Hmong-Mien languages


Miao is the official Chinese name for this ethnolinguistic minority. The Vietnamese use Meo or Man Meo , but their self-designation is Hmong , which is also increasingly used in linguistics. The situation is similar with the Yao: Yao is the official Chinese name, Man is the Vietnamese, Mien is the self-name.

Ethnic groups

For ethnic groups, see the articles Miao and Yao . However, the ethnic and linguistic assignments do not match. There are ethnic Yao who speak Miao languages ​​(e.g. Bunu and Baheng) or ethnic Miao who have switched to Tai-Kadai or Chinese languages. In China, when it comes to assignments to certain minorities, it is usually the ethnic group that counts, not the language, so that corresponding minority figures rarely provide information about the number of speakers.

Relationship with other languages

In the past, the Hmong-Mien languages ​​were counted among the Sino -Tibetan languages ​​by some - especially Chinese - researchers because of their tonal character and the large number of Chinese loanwords . This opinion is no longer held today.

The Hmong-Mien languages contrast, some researchers (eg. As Paul K. Benedict) to the Austro-Asiatic , Austronesian , Sino-Tibetan , Japanese and Tai-Kadai languages to macrofamily " Austric languages combined" or "East Asian".

Based on his analyzes, Stanley Starosta created a diagram that shows the language branches and the approximate degree of relationship of the East Asian language family:

 East Asian (Yangtze languages)  



 Japanese ryūkyū 







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 Hmong Mien 

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Classification of the Hmong-Mien languages

Classification according to chews

Hmong-Mien languages ( Miao-Yao ) (21 languages, 6.3 million speakers)

  • Hmong ( Miao , Meo ) (15 languages, 4.6 million; South China, also Thailand, Vietnam, Laos)
    • Xiangxi (West Hunan )
      • Hmong Xiangxi (Northern Hmong, Red Miao) (800 thousand)
    • Chuanqiandian ( Sichuan - Guizhou - Yunnan )
      • Hmong Njua (Miao Chuanqiandian, Western Hmong) (1.3 million)
      • Hmong Daw (White Miao, Meo Kao) (170k)
      • Hmong Huishui (140k)
      • Hmong Mashan (90k)
      • Hmong Luopohe (Xijia Miao) (40k)
      • Hmong Dian (Ta Hua Miao, Flowery Miao) (200 thousand)
      • Hmong Guiyang (80k)
      • Hmong Chonganjiang (70k)
    • Qiandong (Eastern Guizhou )
      • Hmong Qiandong (Eastern Hmong, Black Miao) (1.4 million)
    • Bunu
      • Bunu (Punu, Bunao) (250 thousand, ethnic 450 thousand YAO)
      • Baheng (Pa Heng, Pa Then) (30k, ethnically YAO)
      • Wunai (20k)
      • Younuo (10k)
      • Jiongnai (Kiang Nai) (1k)
  • Mien ( Yao ) (5 languages, 1.7 million speakers; South China, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos)
    • Mian-Jin
      • Yao (Iu Mien, Mien) (1.3 million)
      • Kim Mun (Mun, Lantin, Hainan 'Miao') (280k)
      • Biao Mien (Biao Mon, Biaoman) (20k)
    • Biao-Jiao
      • Biao Jiao Mien (Biao Chao) (40k)
    • Zaomin
      • Ba Pai (Yao Min, Zaomin) (60k)
  • She
    • She (Huo Nte, Ho Nte) (1 thousand, ethnically 630 thousand).

The language names in brackets (…) are alternative names. The dialectal structure of the major languages ​​can be found with the link provided.

Alternative classification

A somewhat more detailed classification can be found in Lewis (2009): The number of associated languages ​​is given in round brackets, the language code is given in square brackets.

Hmong Mien (38)

  • Hmongic (32)
    • Bunu (4)
      • Bunu, Bu-Nao [bwx] (China)
      • Bunu, Jiongnai [pnu] (China)
      • Bunu, Wunai [bwn] (China)
      • Bunu, Younuo [boo] (China)
    • Chuanqiandian (22)
      • Ge [hmj] (China)
      • Hmong Dô [hmv] (Vietnam)
      • Hmong Don [hmf] (Vietnam)
      • Hmong Njua [hnj] (Laos)
      • Miao, Central Huishui [hmc] (China)
      • Miao, Central Mashan [hmm] (China)
      • Miao, Chuanqiandian Cluster [cqd] (China)
      • Miao, Eastern Huishui [hme] (China)
      • Miao, Horned [hrm] (China)
      • Miao, Large Flowery [hmd] (China)
      • Miao, Luopohe [hml] (China)
      • Miao, Northern Guiyang [huj] (China)
      • Miao, Northern Huishui [hmi] (China)
      • Miao, Northern Mashan [hmp] (China)
      • Miao, Small Flowery [sfm] (China)
      • Miao, South Guiyang [hmy] (China)
      • Miao, Southern Mashan [hma] (China)
      • Miao, Southwest Guiyang [hmg] (China)
      • Miao, Southwestern Huishui [hmh] (China)
      • Miao, Western Mashan [hmw] (China)
      • Miao, White [mww] (China)
      • Sinized Miao [hmz] (China)
    • Pa-hng (1)
      • Pa-Hng [pha] (China)
    • Qiandong (3)
      • Miao, Eastern Qiandong [hmq] (China)
      • Miao, Northern Qiandong [hea] (China)
      • Miao, Southern Qiandong [hms] (China)
    • Xiangxi (2)
      • Miao, Eastern Xiangxi [muq] (China)
      • Miao, Western Xiangxi [mmr] (China)
  • Ho Nte (1)
    • She [shx] (China) (unclear)
  • Mienic (5)
    • Biao Jiao (1)
      • Biao-Jiao Mien [bje] (China)
    • Mian-Jin (3)
      • Biao Mon [bmt] (China)
      • Iu Mien [ium] (China)
      • Kim Mun [mji] (China)
    • Zaomin (1)
  • Dzao Min [bpn] (China)

Linguistic properties

Like Chinese, the Hmong-Mien languages ​​mainly have monosyllabic lexemes (monosyllabic word stems), transparently formed compounds (compound words) and only very few morphological affixes ( prefixes or suffixes for the formation of nominal and verbal forms ). Grammatical functions are mainly expressed in terms of free particles . The large phoneme inventory consists of up to 50 consonants (including retroflexes and uvulars , prenasalized , glottalized and aspirated plosives ) and six vowels. All Hmong Mien languages ​​are tonal , they have between seven and twelve phonemically relevant tones . Widely words were from the Chinese borrowed .


  • Paul K. Benedict: Austro-Thai. Language and Culture. HRAF Press, New Haven CT 1975.
  • Ernst Kausen: Hmong Mien languages . In: The Language Families of the World. Part 1: Europe and Asia . Buske, Hamburg 2013, ISBN 978-3-87548-655-1 , p. 899-914 .
  • S. Robert Ramsey: The Languages ​​of China. Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ 1987, ISBN 0-691-06694-9 .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Lemoine, Jacques (2005). "What is the actual number of (H) mong in the world?" (PDF). Hmong Studies Journal . 6 .
  2. Sagart, Laurent (2016). "The wider connections of Austronesian: A response to Blust (2009)". Diachronica. 33 (2): 255-281.
  3. M. Paul Lewis (Ed.): Ethnologue. Languages ​​of the World. 16th edition. SIL International, Dallas TX 2009, ISBN 978-1-556-71216-6 , online version: .

Web links