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Muangphe

Audio recordings (2013): Andrew Hsiu. (2017). Muangphe audio word list (2013). Zenodo. http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1123365
Audio recordings (2012): Andrew Hsiu. (2017). Muangphe audio word list (2012). Zenodo. http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1123436
Transcribed word list (2014)
Word list in Mondzish lexical database (2017)

I made two trips to the Muangphe village of Xinfazhai, Heizhiguo Township, Guangnan County, Yunnan, China in August 2012 and April 2013. Both times, my informant was Luo Youwang 罗友旺, the mayor of Xinfazhai village. Muangphe has pharyngeal consonants like Northern Qiang, Atayal, and Amis.

Muangphe (muaŋ⁵³, muaŋ⁵⁵phe²¹) is spoken in 5 villages of Babao and Heizhiguo townships, with ethnic Muangphe found in a total of 7 villages. They are known locally to other ethnic groups as the Lai 俫 or Lairen 俫人, which is also applied to the Austroasiatic-speaking Bolyu located further to the north in Longlin County, Guangxi. Phonologically, Muangphe is characterized by the pre-velarization of many of its initials; this does not occur in any of the other Muangphe languages.

Locals of Xinfazhai 新发寨 report that Muangphe is most vigorously spoken in their village by both adults and children, while it is spoken to a lesser extent in the four villages of Jilai 吉赖, Mudilang 木底郎, Wabiao 瓦标, and Muliang 木良. Xinfazhai locals report that the language is not being transmitted to children in, and is thus likely moribund, in those four villages. Muangphe is spoken only by very few elderly individuals in Mulou 木娄and Mulong 木聋 villages, both located in Xinjie administrative village新街村. Based on these demographics, speakers of Muangphe number at least 200 but do not exceed 1,000. It is by all means an endangered language, and is moribund in most villages except for at least Xinfazhai 新发寨.

Xinfazhai locals report that their ancestors had come from a location further to the east called “Jiangxi 江西”. They also claim to have bronze drums inherited from their ancestors, which are maintained and kept hidden by the village elders. An ethnic Han resident of Mulang 木浪 reports watching the local Yi performing bronze drum dances a few decades ago, but says that they are no longer performed. Traditional ethnic clothing is not worn in any of the Muangphe villages.

Many village names in Heizhiguo township and Babao township contain the prefix “Mu- 木”. This likely signifies that the village used to have, or currently has, a Mangish-speaking population, since they have autonyms prefixed maŋ- ~ muŋ-. Similarly, areas that were historically Buyang have many village suffixed “-yang 央” (Li Jinfang 1999).

References
Hsiu, Andrew. 2014. "Mondzish: a new subgroup of Lolo-Burmese". In Proceedings of the 14th International Symposium on Chinese Languages and Linguistics (IsCLL-14). Taipei: Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica.

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