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|Pronunciation||[tai ta? xo?][need tone]|
|Native to||China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos|
|(720,000 cited 1983-2007)|
|Tai Le alphabet|
Official language in
|co-official in Dehong, China|
Tai Nuea (Tai Nüa: ?) (also called Tai N?a, Tai Nüa, Dehong Dai, or Chinese Shan; own name: Tai2 L?6, which means "upper Tai" or "northern Tai", or ? [tai ta? xo?]; Chinese: D?inày? or Déhóng D?iy? ?; Thai: , pronounced [p:s?: tj na] or , pronounced [p:s?: tj tâj.k]) is one of the languages spoken by the Dai people in China, especially in the Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture in the southwest of Yunnan province. It is closely related to the other Tai languages. Speakers of this language across the border in Myanmar are known as Shan. It should not be confused with Tai Lü (Xishuangbanna Dai). There are also Tai Nuea speakers in Thailand.
Most Tai Nuea people call themselves tai?l, which means 'upper Tai' or 'northern Tai'. Note that this is different from Tai Lue, which is pronounced tai?l in Tai Nuea.
Dehong is a transliteration of the term taxo, where ta means 'bottom, under, the lower part (of)', and xo means 'the Hong River' (more widely known as the Salween River or Nujiang in Chinese) (Luo 1998).
Zhou (2001:13) classifies Tai Nuea into the Dehong () and Menggeng () dialects. Together, they add up to a total of 541,000 speakers.
Tai Nuea is a tonal language with a very limited inventory of syllables with no consonant clusters. 16 syllable-initial consonants can be combined with 84 syllable finals and six tones.
Tai Nuea has 17 consonants:
All consonants except for n can occur at the beginning of a syllable. Only the following consonants can occur at the end of a syllable: /p, t, k, m, n, ?/.
Tai Nuea has ten vowels and 13 diphthongs:
Tai Nuea has six tones:
Syllables with p, t, k as final consonants can have only one of three tones (1., 3., or 5.).
The original Tai Nuea spelling did not generally mark tones and failed to distinguish several vowels. It was reformed to make these distinctions, and diacritics were introduced to mark tones. The resulting writing system was officially introduced in 1956. In 1988, the spelling of tones was reformed; special tone letters were introduced instead of the earlier Latin diacritics.
The modern alphabet has a total of 35 letters, including the five tone letters. It is encoded under the name "Tai Le" in the Basic Multilingual Plane of Unicode at U+1950-U+1974.
The Tai Nuea numerals are similar to Myanmar numerals; they are in fact unified with Myanmar's numerals in Unicode (U+1040-U+1049) despite some glyph variations.
The transcription below is given according to the Unicode tables.
Consonants that are not followed by a vowel letter are pronounced with the inherent vowel [a]. Other vowels are indicated with the following letters:
Diphthongs are formed by combining some vowel letters with the consonant ? [w] and some vowel letters with ? [ai]/[j].
In the Thai and Tai Lü writing systems, the tone value in the pronunciation of a written syllable depends on the tone class of the initial consonant, vowel length and syllable structure. In contrast, the Tai Nuea writing system has a very straightforward spelling of tones, with one letter (or diacritic) for each tone. The first tone is not marked.
Examples in the table show the syllable [ta] in different tones, in old (1956) and new (1988) spellings.
Tai Nuea has official status in some parts of Yunnan (China), where it is used on signs and in education. Yunnan People's Radio Station (Yúnnán rénmín gu?ngb? diàntái ) broadcasts in Tai Nuea. On the other hand, however, very little printed material is published in Tai Nuea in China. However, many signs of roads and stores in Mangshi are in Tai Nuea.
In Thailand, a collection of 108 proverbs was published with translations into Thai and English.
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