Pumi language

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Native to People's Republic of China
Region Sichuan, Yunnan
Ethnicity Pumi
Native speakers
54,000 (1999)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Either:
pmi – Northern Pumi
pmj – Southern Pumi
Glottolog pumi1242[2]

The Pumi language (also known as Prinmi) is a Qiangic language used by the Pumi people, an ethnic group from Yunnan, China, as well as by the Tibetan people of Muli in Sichuan, China.[3][4] Most native speakers live in Lanping, Ninglang, Lijiang, Weixi and Muli. Earlier works suggest there are two branches of Pumi (southern and northern), and they are not mutually intelligible. A more refined division proposes three major groups: Western Prinmi (spoken in Lanping), Central Prinmi (spoken in southwestern Ninglang, Lijiang, Yulong and Yongsheng) and Northern Prinmi (spoken in northern Ninglang and Sichuan).[5]

The autonym of the Pumi is pʰʐə̃˥mi˥ in Western Prinmi, pʰɹĩ˥mi˥ in Central Prinmi, and pʰʐõ˥mə˥˧ in Northern Prinmi with variants such as pʰɹə̃˥mə˥ and tʂʰə̃˥mi˥˧.[6][7]

In Muli Bonist priests read religious texts in Tibetan, which needs to be interpreted into Prinmi. An attempt to teach Pumi children to write their language using the Tibetan script has been seen in Ninglang.[8] A pinyin-based Roman script has been proposed, but is not commonly used.[9]


Dialects of Pumi include the following (Pumiyu Fangyan Yanjiu 2001).

Southern (22,000 speakers)
Northern (55,000 speakers)




Pumi[by whom?] English
Tèr gwéjè dzwán thèr phxèungphxàr sì.
Timitae llìnggwe zreungzrun stìng.
He have broken several hammers.
This man is crying and shouting all the time.


  1. Northern Pumi at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Southern Pumi at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Pumi". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Ding, Picus S. 2003. Prinmi: a sketch of Niuwozi. In Graham Thurgood and Randy LaPolla (eds.) The Sino-Tibetan Languages, pp. 588-601. London: Routledge Press.
  4. Lu, S. 2001. Dialectal Studies of the Pumi Language. Beijing: Nationalities Press.
  5. Ding, Picus. 2014
  6. Pumiyu Fangyan Yanjiu 2001.
  7. Ding, Picus. 2014
  8. Wáng lěi and Shī Xiǎoliàng. 2011. Shínián, xiāngcūn “hánguī” zǒujìn xiànxué “pǔmǐbān”.[1]
  9. Ding, Picus. 2007