Jino language

Jinuo, Buyuan Jino, Youle Jino, 基諾語補遠方言 [1]
Pronunciation[tɕy˦no˦] or [ki˦ɲo˦][2]
RegionSipsongpanna, Dai autonomous prefecture of southern Yunnan (People's Republic of China)
Native speakers
21,000 (2007)[3]
  • Youle Jino
  • Buyuan Jino
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
jiu – Youle Jinuo
jiy – Buyuan Jinuo

Jino Language (Jinuo; also known as Buyuan, Jinuo, Buyuan Jinuo 基諾語補遠方言.)[4] autonyms: tɕy˦no˦, ki˦ɲo˦) Jino language is a pair of Loloish languages spoken by the Jino people of Yunnan.


In total, there are about 28,320 Jinuo people living in China.[5] 70–80% of Jinuo people can speak Jino fluently.[6] The Jino languages has two subdialects of Youle Jino and Buyuan Jinuo,[7] and they are not mutually intelligible.

Buyuan Jinuo is spoken by 21,000 people[8] Most of the speakers are monolingual, which means they only speak Jino language.[4] There is no official written form. Most Jino also speak one of the Tai languages or Chinese. The ISO 639-3 code for the Jino language is "jiu" for Youle Jino, or "jiy" for Buyuan Jino.[8] The Glottocode for Jino language is "youl1235" for Youle Jino,[9] or "buyu1238" for Buyuan Jino.[10]


The exact classification of Jino within the Loloish branch of Sino-Tibetan language family remains uncertain. Jino is classified as a Southern Loloish (Hanoish) language by Ziwo Lama (2012),[11] but as a Central Loloish language by Bradley (2007).[12] Jino is also classified as a Southern Loloish language in Satterthwaite-Phillips' (2011) computational phylogenetic analysis of the Lolo-Burmese languages.[13]


The language usage is rapidly eliminating, in the 1980s there was 70–80% of Jinuo people used Jino language. In 2000, There was less than 50% of the population can speak Jino language.[14]

Jino was recognized by the state council on 6 June 1979 as the last recognized minority nationality in China.[14]

Historically, Jino people was organized as a matriarchal culture, and “Jino” means “descending from the uncle,” and it refers to the importance of mother’s brother in matriarchal societies.[15]

From language aspect, Jino language is similar to other languages under the branch of the Tibeto-Burman languages, because Jino people moved from the northwest of Yunnan province to the territories they are at now, but the timing and routes of this migration remain uncertain,[1]

Geographic distribution

Jinuo Township (Jinuo Mountain), located in Jinghong City of the Sipsongpanna Dai autonomous prefecture of Yunnan province, China.[14]


There are five tonemes in Buyuan Jino language. Gai believes that the function of tonemes are distinguishing lexical meanings and grammatical meanings.[16]

  1. /˥/ (high level tone, 55): it tends to phonetically shorten vowels
  2. /˦/ (mid level tone, 44): lower than 55, though still high
  3. /˧˩/ (low falling tone, 31)
  4. /˧˥/ (rising tone, 35)
  5. /˥˧/ (high falling tone, 53)

/˥˧/ (53) tone is considered difficult to distinguish when listening to a native speaker.[7]

Writing system

Since there is no official written form for Jino, therefore, Jino does not have a writing system, but it developed several systems of signs to cover communication in different situations.[1] They used engraved wooden or bamboo boards to record debts between villages.


  1. ^ a b c Arcones, Pedro Ceinos (2014-04-14). China's Last but one matriarchy: The Jino of Yunnan. Pedro Ceinos.
  2. ^ Lama, Ziwo Qiu-Fuyuan (2012), Subgrouping of Nisoic (Yi) Languages, thesis, University of Texas at Arlington
  3. ^ Youle Jinuo at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Buyuan Jinuo at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  4. ^ a b "Did you know Buyuan Jinuo is endangered?". Endangered Languages. Retrieved 2017-03-08.
  5. ^ "People Group Profiles - Asia Harvest". asiaharvest.org. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  6. ^ Moseley, Christopher (2012). "Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger". UNESCO.
  7. ^ a b NetCommons (2013-03-01). "神戸市外国語大学学術情報リポジトリ". Annals of Foreign Studies (in Japanese). 83.
  8. ^ a b "Jinuo, Buyuan". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
  9. ^ "Glottolog 2.7 - Jino". glottolog.org. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
  10. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Jino". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  11. ^ Lama, Ziwo Qiu-Fuyuan. 2012. Subgrouping of Nisoic (Yi) Languages. Ph.D. thesis, University of Texas at Arlington.
  12. ^ Bradley, David. 2007. East and Southeast Asia. In Moseley, Christopher (ed.), Encyclopedia of the World's Endangered Languages, 349-424. London & New York: Routledge.
  13. ^ Satterthwaite-Phillips, Damian. 2011. Phylogenetic inference of the Tibeto-Burman languages or On the usefulness of lexicostatistics (and "Megalo"-comparison) for the subgrouping of Tibeto-Burman. Ph.D. dissertation, Stanford University.
  14. ^ a b c Yuming, Li; Wei, Li (2013-03-22). The Language Situation in China. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 978-1614512530.
  15. ^ Minahan, James B. (2014-02-10). Ethnic Groups of North, East, and Central Asia: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781610690188.
  16. ^ Xingzhi, Gai. 1986. Jinoyu Jianzhi [A brief description of the Jinuo language]. Beijing: Minzu Chubanshe.

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