1.a language of uncertain affiliation spoken by the Hmong
definition of Wikipedia
language; natural language; tongue[ClasseHyper.]
Hmong language (n.)
|Hmong Daw test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
|lus Hmoob / lug Moob / lol Hmongb|
|Spoken natively in||China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, USA, and French Guiana.|
|Native speakers||2.6 million (1995–2004)|
|Writing system||Pahawh Hmong, Latin|
|ISO 639-3||blu – inclusive code
hmv – Hmong Do (Vietnam)
mww – Hmong Daw (Laos, China)
hnj – Mong Njua (Laos, China)
hmz – Hmong Shua (Sinicized)
cqd – Chuanqiandian-cluster Miao (cover term for Hmong in China)
hrm – Horned Miao (A-Hmo, China)
hmf – Hmong Don (Vietnam)
Hmong (RPA: Hmoob) or Mong (RPA: Moob), known as Miao in China, is a dialect continuum of the West Hmongic branch of the Miao languages, sometimes known as the Chuanqiandian Cluster, which is spoken by the Hmong people of Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi, northern Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos. There are some 2.7 million speakers of varieties which are largely mutually intelligible, including 200,000 Hmong Americans. Over half of all Hmong speakers speak the various dialects of the Chuanqiandian cluster in China, and the Dananshan (大南山) dialect of Chuanqiandian forms the basis of the standard language in China, but Hmong Daw (White Miao) and Mong Njua (Green Miao) are more widely known overseas due to emigration. There are also Hmong immigrants that live in Canada, though not as many as there are in the United States.
Mong Njua and Hmong Daw are part of a dialect cluster known in China as Chuanqiandian Miao, that is, "Sichuan–Guizhou–Yunnan Miao", called the "Chuanqiandian cluster" in English, as Western Hmongic is also called Chuanqiandian (they are distinguished as the Chuanqiandian "subdialect" of the Chuanqiandian "dialect" in Chinese). Mong Njua and Hmong Daw are just those varieties of the cluster which migrated to Laos; the Western names Mong Njua, Mong Leng, Hmong Dleu/Der, and Hmong Daw are also used in China for various dialects of the Chuanqiandian cluster.
Ethnologue once distinguished only the Laotian varieties (Hmong Daw, Mong Njua), Sinicized Miao (Hmong Shua), and the Vietnamese varieties (Hmong Do, Hmong Don). The Vietnamese varieties are very poorly known; population estimates are not even available. In 2007, Horned Miao, Small Flowery Miao, and the Chuanqiandian cluster of China were split off from Mong Njua [blu]. These varieties are as follows, along with some alternate names ('Ch.' = Chinese name, 'auto.' = autonym [self name]):
Many of the above names used outside (White Miao, Blue/Green Miao, Flowery Miao, Mong Leng, etc.) are also used in China. Several Chinese varieties may be more distinct than the varieties listed above:
In the 2007 request to establish an ISO code for the Chuanqiandian cluster, corresponding to the "first local dialect" (第一土語) of the Chuanqiandian cluster in Chinese, the proposer made the following statement on mutual intelligibility:
The three dialects described here are known as Hmong Daw (also called White Miao or Hmong Der), Mong Njua (also called Blue or Green Miao or Mong Leng), and Dananshan (Standard Chinese Miao). Hmong Daw and Mong Njua are the two major dialects spoken by Hmong Americans. While mutually intelligible, the dialects differ in both lexicon and certain aspects of phonology. For instance, Mong Njua lacks the voiceless/aspirated /m̥/ of Hmong Daw (as exemplified by their names) and has a third nasalized vowel, /ã/; Danashan has a couple extra diphthongs in native words, numerous Chinese loans, and an eighth tone.
The vowel systems of Hmong Daw and Mong Njua are as shown in the following charts. Phonemes particular to each dialect are color coded respectively:
|Close component is front||ai||iə|
|Close component is central||aɨ|
|Close component is back||au||uə|
The Dananshan standard of China is similar. Phonemic differences from Hmong Daw and Mong Njua are color coded.
|Close component is front||aj ⟨ai⟩|
|Close component is back||aw ⟨au⟩||ɒ ⟨ua⟩|
Dananshan [ɨ] occurs only after non-palatal affricates, and is written ⟨i⟩, much like Mandarin Chinese. /u/ is pronounced [y] after palatal consonants. There is also a triphthong /jeβ/ ⟨ieu⟩, as well as other i- and u-initial sequences in Chinese borrowings, such as /je, waj, jaw, wen, waŋ/.
Hmong makes a number of phonemic contrasts unfamiliar to English speakers. All non-glottal stops and affricates distinguish aspirated and unaspirated forms, most also prenasalization independently of this. The consonant inventory of Hmong is shown in the chart below. (Consonants particular to Hmong Daw and Mong Njua are color-coded respectively.)
The Danashan standard of China is similar. (Phonemic differences from Hmong Daw and Mong Njua are color-coded. Minor differences, such as the voicing of prenasalized stops, or whether /c/ is an affricate or /h/ is velar, may be a matter of transcription.) Aspirates, voiceless fricatives, voiceless nasals, and glottal stop only occur with yin tones (1, 3, 5, 7). Standard orthography is added in ⟨brackets⟩. Glottal stop is not written; it is not distinct from a zero initial. There is also a /w/, which occurs only in foreign words.
|Nasal||Voiceless||m̥ ⟨hm⟩||n̥ ⟨hn⟩||ɲ̥ ⟨hni⟩|
|Voiced||m ⟨m⟩||n ⟨n⟩||ɲ ⟨ni⟩||ŋ ⟨ngg⟩|
|Plosive||Tenuis||p ⟨b⟩||(pˡ) ⟨bl⟩||t ⟨d⟩||(tˡ) ⟨dl⟩||ʈ ⟨dr⟩||k ⟨g⟩||q ⟨gh⟩||(ʔ)|
|Aspirated||pʰ ⟨p⟩||(pˡʰ) ⟨pl⟩||tʰ ⟨t⟩||(tˡʰ) ⟨tl⟩||ʈʰ ⟨tr⟩||kʰ ⟨k⟩||qʰ ⟨kh⟩|
|Prenasalized**||ᵐp ⟨nb⟩||(ᵐpˡ) ⟨nbl⟩||ⁿt ⟨nd⟩||ᶯʈ ⟨ndr⟩||ᵑk ⟨ng⟩||ᶰq ⟨ngh⟩|
|ᵐpʰ ⟨np⟩||(ᵐpˡʰ) ⟨npl⟩||ⁿtʰ ⟨nt⟩||ᶯʈʰ ⟨ntr⟩||ᵑkʰ ⟨nk⟩||ᶰqʰ ⟨nkh⟩|
|Affricate||Tenuis||ts ⟨z⟩||tʂ ⟨zh⟩||tɕ ⟨j⟩|
|Aspirated||tsʰ ⟨c⟩||tʂʰ ⟨ch⟩||tɕʰ ⟨q⟩|
|Prenasalized**||ⁿts ⟨nz⟩||ⁿtʂ ⟨nzh⟩||ⁿtɕ ⟨nj⟩|
|ⁿtsʰ ⟨nc⟩||ⁿtʂʰ ⟨nch⟩||ⁿtɕʰ ⟨nq⟩|
|Fricative||Voiceless||f ⟨f⟩||s ⟨s⟩||ɬ ⟨hl⟩||ʂ ⟨sh⟩||ɕ ⟨x⟩||x ⟨h⟩|
|Voiced||v ⟨v⟩||ʐ ⟨r⟩||ʑ ⟨y⟩|
^* The status of the consonants described here as single phonemes with lateral release is controversial. A number of scholars instead analyze them as biphonemic clusters with /l/ as the second element. The difference in analysis (e.g. between /pˡ/ and /pl/) is not based on any disagreement in the sound or pronunciation of the consonants in question, but on differing theoretical grounds. Those in favor of a unit-phoneme analysis generally argue for this based on distributional evidence (i.e. if clusters, these would be the only clusters in the language, although see below) and dialect evidence (the laterally released dentals in Green Mong, e.g. /tl/, correspond to the voiced dentals of White Hmong), while those in favor of a cluster analysis tend to argue on the basis of general phonetic principles (other examples of labial phonemes with lateral release appear extremely rare or nonexistent).
^** Some linguists prefer to analyze the prenasalized consonants as clusters whose first element is /n/. However, this cluster analysis is not as common as the above one involving /l/.
Hmong syllables have a very simple structure: onsets are obligatory (except in a few particles), nuclei may consist of a monophthong or diphthong, and coda consonants apart from nasals are prohibited. In Hmong Daw and Mong Njua, nasal codas have become nasal vowels, though they may be accompanied by a weak coda [ŋ]. Similarly, a weak coda [ʔ] may accompany the low-falling creaky tone.
Dananshan has a syllabic /l̩/ (written ⟨l⟩) in Chinese loans, such as lf 'two' and lx 'child'.
|Tone||Hmong Daw example||Hmong/Mong spelling|
|High ˥||/pɔ́/ 'ball'||pob|
|Mid ˧||/pɔ/ 'spleen'||po|
|Low ˩||/pɔ̀/ 'thorn'||pos|
|High-falling ˥˧||/pɔ̂/ 'female'||poj|
|Mid-rising ˧˦||/pɔ̌/ 'to throw'||pov|
|Low checked (creaky) tone ˩
(phrase final: long low rising ˨˩˧)
|/pɔ̰̀/ 'to see'||pom
(phrase final: pod)
|Mid-falling breathy tone ˧˩||/pɔ̤̂/ 'grandmother'||pog|
The Dananshan tones are transcribed as pure tone. However, given how similar several of them are, it is likely that there are also phonational differences as in Hmong Daw and Mong Njua. Tones 4 and 6, for example, are said to make tenuis plosives breathy voiced (浊送气), suggesting they may be breathy/murmured like the Hmong g-tone. Tones 7 and 8 are used in early Chinese loans with entering tone, suggesting they may once have marked checked syllables.
Since voiceless consonants apart from tenuis plosives are restricted to appearing before certain tones (1, 3, 5, 7), those are placed first in the table:
|1 high falling||˦˧ 43||b|
|3 top||˥ 5||d|
|5 high||˦ 4||t|
|7 mid||˧ 3||k|
|2 mid falling||˧˩ 31||x|
|4 low falling (breathy)||˨˩̤ 21||l|
|6 low rising (breathy)||˩˧̤ 13||s|
|8 mid rising||˨˦ 24||f|
Robert Cooper, an anthropologist, collected a Hmong folktale saying that the Hmong used to have a written language, and important information was written down in a treasured book. The folktale explains that cows and rats ate the book, so, in the words of Anne Fadiman, author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, "no text was equal to the task of representing a culture as rich as that of the Hmong." Therefore, the folktale states that the Hmong language was exclusively oral from that point onwards.
Since the end of the 19th century, linguists created over two dozen Hmong writing systems, including systems using Chinese, Lao, Russian, Thai, and Vietnamese characters and alphabets. In addition, in 1959 Shong Lue Yang, a Hmong spiritual leader from Laos, created an 81 symbol writing system called Pahawh. Yang was not previously literate in any language. Chao Fang, an anti-Laotian government Hmong group, uses this writing system.
The Romanized Popular Alphabet (RPA), the most widely used script for Hmong Daw and Mong Njua, was developed in Laos between 1951 and 1953 by three Western missionaries. In the United States Hmong do not use RPA for spelling of proper nouns, because they want their names to be easily pronounced by people unfamiliar with RPA. For instance Hmong in the U.S. spell Hmoob as "Hmong," and Liab Lis is spelled as Lia Lee.
The Dananshan standard in China is written in a pinyin-based alphabet, with tone letters similar to those used in RPA.
The following is a list of pairs of RPA and Dananshan segments having the same sound (or very similar sounds). Note however that RPA and the standard in China not only differ in orthographic rules, but are also used to write different languages. The list is ordered alphabetically by the RPA, apart from prenasalized stops and voiceless sonorants, which come after their oral and voiced homologues. There are three overriding patterns to the correspondences: RPA doubles a vowel for nasalization, whereas pinyin uses ⟨ng⟩; RPA uses ⟨h⟩ for aspiration, whereas pinyin uses the voicing distinction of the Latin script; pinyin uses ⟨h⟩ (and ⟨r⟩) to derive the retroflex and uvular series from the dental and velar, whereas RPA uses sequences based on ⟨t, x, k⟩ vs. ⟨r, s, q⟩ for the same.
There is no simple correspondence between the tone letters. The historical connection between the tones is as follows. The Chinese names reflect the tones given to early Chinese loan words with those tones in Chinese.
|平 or A||1||b ˦˧||b ˥|
|2||x ˧˩||j ˥˧|
|上 or B||3||d ˥||v ˧˦|
|去 or C||5||t ˦||(unmarked) ˧|
|6||s ˩˧̤||g ˧˩̤|
|入 or D||7||k ˧||s ˩|
|8||f ˨˦||m ˩̰ ~ d ˨˩˧|
Tones 4 and 7 merged in Hmoob Dawb, while tones 4 and 6 merged in Mong Njua.
Example: lus Hmoob (White Hmong) / lug Moob (Green Hmong) / lol Hmongb (Dananshan) "Hmong language".
(possessive) + (quantifier) + (classifier) + noun + (adjective) + (demonstrative)
The Hmong pronominal system distinguishes between three grammatical persons and three numbers - singular, dual, and plural. They are not marked for case, that is, the same word is used to translate both "I" and "me", "she" and "her", and so forth. These are the personal pronouns of Hmong Daw and Mong Njua:
Hmong is an isolating language in which most morphemes are monosyllables. As a result, verbs are not overtly inflected. Tense, aspect, mood, person, number, gender, and case are indicated lexically.
Hmong verbs can be serialized. Two or more verbs can be combined in one clause. It is not uncommon for as many as five verbs to be strung together sharing the same subject.
Example (White Hmong)
Yam zoo tshaj plaws mas, nej yuav tsum mus nrhiav nug xyuas saib luag muaj kev pab hom dab tsi nyob ncig ib cheeb tsam ntawm nej.
thing good most top you must go look-for ask visit see others have way help kind what be-at around environs at you
'The best thing to do is for you to find people who live in your neighborhood who can help you with different things.'
Since the verb form in Hmong does not change to indicate tense, the simplest way to indicate the location in time of an event is to use temporal adverb phrases like "last year," "today," or "next week."
Example (White Hmong)
Nag hmo kuv mus tom khw.
yesterday I go loc. market
'I went to the market yesterday.'
Aspectual differences are indicated by a number of verbal modifiers. The most common of which are:
Progressive: (Mong Njua) taab tom + verb, (White Hmong) tab tom + verb = situation in progess
Example: (Mong Njua)
Puab taab tom haus dlej.
they prog. drink water.
They are drinking water.
Taab/tab tom + verb can also be used to indicate a situation that is about to start. This is most clear when taab/tab tom occurs in conjunction with the irrealis marker yuav. It should be noted that the taab tom construction is used only when it is not clear from the context that a situation is ongoing or about to begin.
Perfective: sentence/clause + lawm = completed situation
Example (Green and White Hmong)
Kuv noj mov lawm.
I eat rice perf.
'I am finished/I am done eating.'
Lawm at the end of a sentence can also indicate that an action is underway.
Example (White Hmong)
Tus tub tau rab hneev, nws thiaj mus ua si lawm.
clf. boy get clf. crossbow; he then go play perf.
'The boy got the crossbow and went off to play.'
Another common way to indicate the accomplishment of an action or attainment is by using tau. Tau, as a main verb, means 'to get/obtain.' It takes on different connotations when combined with other verbs. When it occurs before the main verb (i.e. tau + verb), it conveys the attainment or fulfillment of a situation. Whether the situation took place in the past, present, or future is indicated at the discourse level rather than the sentence level. If the situation has taken place in the past, tau + verb translates to the past tense in English.
Example (White Hmong)
Lawv tau noj nqaij nyug.
they attain eat meat beef
'They ate beef.'
Tau is optional if an explicit past time marker is present (e.g. nag hmo, last night). Tau can also mark the fulfillment of a situation in the future.
Example (White Hmong)
Thaum txog peb caug lawm sawv daws thiaj tau hnav khaub ncaws tshiab.
when arrive New Year perf. everybody then attain wear clothes new
'So when the New Year arrives, everybody gets to wear new clothes.'
When tau follows the main verb (i.e. verb + tau), it indicates the accomplishment of the purpose of an action.
Example (Mong Njua)
Kuv xaav xaav ib plag, kuv xaav tau tswv yim.
I think think awhile, I think get idea.
'I thought it over and got an idea.'
Tau is also common in serial verb constructions made up of a verb followed by an accomplishment verb as in: (White Hmong) nrhiav tau, to look for; caum tau, to chase; yug tau, to give birth.
Future: yuav + verb
Example (Mong Njua)
Kuv yuav moog.
I will be going.
Yuav + verb may also be seen as indicative of the irrealis mood: situations that are unfulfilled or unrealized. This includes hypothetical or non-occurring situations with past, present, or future time references.
Example (from a White Hmong folk tale)
Tus Tsov hais tias, "Kuv tshaib tshaib plab li kuv yuav noj koj.
clf. Tiger say, "I hungry hungry stomach int. I irrls. eat you
'The Tiger said, "I'm very hungry and I'm going to eat you."
Tus Qav tsis paub yuav ua li cas li.
clf. Frog neg. know irrls. do what int.
'The Frog didn't know what to do.'
|Hmong language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
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