E language

Kjang E
RegionGuangxi, China
Native speakers
(30,000 cited 1992)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3eee
Guangxi in China (+all claims hatched).svg
Guangxi, of which E is spoken in a small area

E or Wuse/Wusehua (simplified Chinese: 五色话; traditional Chinese: 五色話; pinyin: Wǔsè Huà; lit. 'Colored Language') is a TaiChinese mixed language spoken primarily in Rongshui Miao Autonomous County, Guangxi, China. It contains features of both Tai and Chinese varieties, generally adopting Chinese vocabulary into Tai grammar. E is a tonal language—distinguishing between seven tones—and contains a few rare phonemes: voiceless versions of the more common nasal consonants and alveolar lateral approximant.


The E language's unusual pinyin-transliterated name, which is also an autonym, consists of a single letter e.[2] The character, which is written "" in Simplified Chinese and "" in Traditional Chinese, usually denotes an expression of affirmation.[3] The language's speakers also refer to their language as Kjang E.[2] Wusehua is a derogatory name for E.[4]

Geographical distribution

Zhuang people in Guilin

In 1992, E was spoken by about 30,000 people,[2] but by 2008 this number had dwindled to 9,000.[5] Most E speakers are classified as Zhuang by the Chinese government. E speakers live primarily in the Guangxi autonomous region of China, specifically in the Rongshui Miao county and border areas of Luocheng Mulao. Villages inhabited by E speakers include Xiatan, Simo, Xinglong, and the Yonglei district. Ethnologue classifies E as rank 6b (Threatened). E speakers' most commonly spoken other languages are Yue Chinese and the Guiliu variant of Southwestern Mandarin.[6]


E's consonant and vowel inventories are mostly similar to those of its parent languages. However, it contains a few unusual consonants: the voiceless nasal consonants [], [ŋ̥], [], and the voiceless alveolar lateral approximant []. All are voiceless versions of consonants that, in most languages, are always voiced. E allows syllabic consonants and diphthongs.[5]

Like most Southeast Asian languages, including Tai and the varieties of Chinese, E is tonal.[7] The language is described as having seven tones, with the seventh varying allophonically with the length of the vowel it is attached to. With numbers ranging from 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest tone and 5 the highest, the contours of the various tones in E are as follows.[5]

Tone contours
Number Contour Tone letter
1. 42 ˦˨
2. 231 ˨˧˩
3. 44 ˦
4. 35 ˧˥
5. 24 ˨˦
6. 55 ˥
7. Short 24 ˨˦
Long 22 ˨

Grammar and lexicon

E is usually classified as a mixed language deriving ultimately from the Tai-Kadai and Sino-Tibetan families, which both inhabit southern China and Southeast Asia.[4] Some non-Chinese scholars, however, consider it a Tai-Kadai language with Chinese influence.[8] Whatever its classification, the grammar resembles that of the Tai branch of Tai-Kadai. E's grammatical features appear to be a mix of Northern Zhuang, Mulam, and Kam.[6][7] The Caolan language of Vietnam also displays many similarities with E.[7]

The vocabulary, however, is mostly Chinese, based on Guiliu and the Tuguai variant of Pinghua.[6][7] Out of the 2,000 most commonly used E words, only about 200 are of Tai-Kadai origin.[9] E also inherits elements of these Chinese dialects' phonology and compound word formation.[6] E morphology is primarily analytic, with concepts such as negation expressed with auxiliary words (pat6, m2) and no pronominal agreement.[5]

In its pronouns, E distinguishes for person between first, second, and third; in number between singular and plural; and, in the case of the first-person plural, between inclusive and exclusive we. E does not, however, make distinctions for grammatical gender.[5]


  1. ^ E at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ a b c Edmondson 1992, p. 138.
  3. ^ Unihan Database 1991.
  4. ^ a b Encyclopedia of Linguistics 2003, p. 207.
  5. ^ a b c d e Greenhill, Blust & Gray 2008.
  6. ^ a b c d Lewis, Simons & Fennig 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d Edmondson 1992, pp. 135–144.
  8. ^ Moseley 2012, p. 72.
  9. ^ Meizhin 2007, pp. 2596–2620.


  • Edmondson, Jerold A. (1992). The language game: papers in memory of Donald C. Laycock. Canberra: Australian National University.
  • Greenhill, S.J.; Blust, R.; Gray, R.D. (2008). "The Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database: From Bioinformatics to Lexomics – Language: Wusehua (Rongshui)". University of Auckland. Archived from the original on 2017-04-13. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  • Lewis, M. Paul; Simons, Gary F.; Fennig, Charles D. (2014). "Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Seventeenth edition – E". SIL International. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  • Meizhin, Luo (2007). 中国的语言 (in Chinese). Commercial Press. ISBN 978-7100043632.
  • Moseley, Christopher (2012). Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger. UNESCO Publishing. ISBN 978-0-956-60524-5.
  • International Encyclopedia of Linguistics: AAVE–Esperanto. 1. Oxford University Press. 2003. ISBN 978-0-195-16783-2.
  • "Unihan data for U+8A92". Unicode.org. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
  • Wei Maofan [韦茂繁] (2011). A study of Wusehua [五色话研究]. Beijing: Minzu University Press. ISBN 9787105113651

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