Presentation Open Access

The Biao languages of northwestern Guangdong, China

Andrew Hsiu

Abstract

Biao consists of three mutually unintelligible Kra-Dai (Tai-Kadai) languages spoken primarily in Huaiji County, Guangdong Province, China, namely Biao of Shidong, Yonggu, and Dagang townships. This paper presents preliminary data that I collected myself from Yonggu Biao and Dagang Biao in April 2013, and compares them to Shidong Biao as documented by Liang Min (2002). Prior scholarship on Biao has focused almost exclusively on Shidong Biao, with no extensive descriptions or data given for either Yonggu or Dagang Biao. Biao of Chang’an Township, Fengkai County, Guangdong is also found to be mutually intelligible with Dagang Biao.

The internal classification of Biao within the Kra-Dai language family also be discussed. Biao appears to share some lexical and phonological links with Lakkja, which Liang (2002) believes forms a subgroup with the Kam-Sui branch. I will also consider the possibility of Biao constituting a separate primary branch of Kra-Dai, coordinate with the Tai and Kra (Geyang) branches.

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