She language

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Ho Ne
Pronunciation [hɔ̀né̄]
Native to China
Region Zengcheng, Boluo County, Huidong County and Haifeng County in Guangdong
Ethnicity 710,000 She (2000 census)[1]
Native speakers
910 (1999)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 shx
Glottolog shee1238[2]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

The She language (Mandarin: 畲語 shēyǔ, Hakka 山客話 san ha ue [sáŋ xáʔ uə̄̀]), autonym Ho Ne (hɔ22 ne53) or Ho Nte, is an endangered Hmong–Mien language spoken by the She people. Most of the over 709,000 She people today speak Hakka Chinese. Those who still speak She—approximately 1,200 individuals in Guangdong province—call themselves Ho Ne "mountain people" (Chinese: 活聶 huóniè).

External relationships

She has been difficult to classify due to the heavy influence of Chinese on the language. Matisoff (2001), for example, left it unclassified within the Hmongic languages, and some have considered that much to be doubtful, leaving it unclassified within (and potentially a third branch of) the Hmong–Mien languages. However, Mao & Li (2002) and Ratliff (2010) consider She to be most closely related to Jiongnai.[3][4]

Relationship with Hakka

The She have strongly influenced, and been strongly influenced by, the Hakka Chinese, both in language and culture.

Relationship with Min Dong

The She people of Eastern Fujian speak a Min Dong–influenced variety of She.

  • The first person singular 我 is pronounced as [ŋuai] (compare Fuzhou dialect nguāi).
  • The word 囝 (a diminutive particle) is pronounced as [kiaŋ], just as giāng in Fuzhou dialect.
  • They both share the same verbs.



  Bilabial Labio-
Alveolar Velar Glottal
plain pal. plain pal. plain pal. lab. plain pal.
Nasal voiced m n ŋ ŋʲ
voiceless ŋ̊
Plosive voiceless unaspirated p t k (ʔ)
voiceless aspirated pʰʲ tʰʲ kʰʲ kʰʷ
Affricate voiceless unaspirated ts tsʲ
voiceless aspirated tsʰ tsʰʲ
Fricative voiceless f s h
voiced v z

Glottal stop is not distinct from zero (a vowel-initial syllable).

There are consonant mutation effects. For instance, pǐ + kiáu becomes pi̋’iáu, and kóu + tȁi becomes kóulȁi.


Vowels are /i e a ɔ ɤ u/. Finals are /j w n ŋ t k/, with /t k/ only in Hakka loans, though /ɤ/ is never followed by a final, and the only stops which follow the front vowels are /n t/.


There are six tones, reduced to two (high and low) in checked syllables (Hakka loans only). There is quite a lot of dialectical variability; two of the reported inventories (not necessarily in corresponding order) are:

[ ˥ ˦ ˧ ˨ ˨˩ ˧˥ ]: that is, /5 4 3 2 1 35/, or (on /a/), /a̋ á ā à ȁ ǎ/

[ ˥˧ ˦˨ ˧ ˨ ˧˩ ˧˥ ]: that is, /53 42 3 2 31 35/


Loanwords from Classical Chinese

Like Southern Chinese dialects, the She language has loanwords from Classical Chinese. 走 to run 行 to walk 烏 black 赤 red 寮 house 禾 rice (plant) 鑊 wok 奉 to give 其 he/she/it 着 to wear 睇 to look 戮 to kill 齧 to bite 使 to use


  1. 1.0 1.1 She at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "She". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 毛宗武, 李云兵 / Mao Zongwu, Li Yunbing. 2002. 炯奈语硏究 / Jiongnai yu yan jiu (A Study of Jiongnai). Beijing: 中央民族大学出版社 / Zhong yang min zu da xue chu ban she.
  4. Ratliff, Martha. 2010. Hmong–Mien language history. Canberra, Australia: Pacific Linguistics.
  • Bruhn, Daniel. 2008. Minority Language Policy in China, with Observations on the She Ethnic Group[1]
  • Mao, Zongwu & Meng, Chaoji. 1986. She yu jian zhi (A Sketch of the She language). Beijing, China: Nationalities Press. (毛宗武, 蒙朝吉. 1986. 畬語簡志. 北京: 民族出版社)
  • Ratliff, Martha. 1998. Ho Ne (She) is Hmongic: One final argument. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 21.2:97-109.
  • You, Wenliang. 2002. She zu yu yan [The languages of the She people]. Fuzhou, China: Fujian People's Publishing House. (游文良. 2002. 畲族语言. 福州: 福建人民出版社)