Volume 21, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1606-822X
  • E-ISSN: 2309-5067



Lavïa, spoken in a belt across both sides of the Yunnan-Myanmar border, is an under-researched Wa language falling under the Waic subgroup of Palaungic in the Austroasiatic language family. This study investigates the sound system of Lavïa and traces its development from an ancestral Proto-Wa-Lawa phonological system. Modern Lavïa phonology is characterized by well-preserved sesquisyllablic structure, rich inventories of consonant and vocalic clusters, and lack of phonemic tone or phonation. Diachronically, Lavïa shows widely attested Waic sound changes as well as certain distinctive innovations which, among other things, yielded voiceless nasals and caused huge upheavals in its vocalic system. These diagnostic innovations help define Lavïa’s unique position within the Wa language cluster.

Available under the CC BY 4.0 license.

Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...



  1. Diffloth, Gérard
    1980 The Wa languages. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area5(2). 1–182.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. . Etymological lexicon of Wa, Lawa, and Bulang. (Manuscript.)
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Drage, Godfrey
    1907A few notes on Wa. Rangoon: Superintendent, Government Printing.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Sun, Jackson T.-S.
    2018a Pang phonology and vocabulary. InHo, Dah-An & Yiu, Yuk-man Carine & Sun, Jingtao & Chen, Zhongmin & Cheung, Hung-Nin Samuel (eds.), Frontiers in the study of Sinitic and Sino-Tibetan linguistics: Festschrift in honor of Professor Ting Pang-Hsin on his 80th birthday, vol.21, 888–919. Beijing: Social Sciences Academic Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. 2018b The synchronic and diachronic phonology of Va: A Wa-Lawa language of Yunnan. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area41(2). 133–174. 10.1075/ltba.18010.sun
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ltba.18010.sun [Google Scholar]
  6. Thurgood, Graham
    2002 Vietnamese and tonogenesis: Revising the model and the analysis. Diachronica19(2). 333–363. 10.1075/dia.19.2.04thu
    https://doi.org/10.1075/dia.19.2.04thu [Google Scholar]
  7. Watkins, Justin
    2002The phonetics of Wa: Experimental phonetics, phonology, orthography and sociolinguistics. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Zhou, Zhizhi & Yan, Qixiang
    (eds.) 1984 Wayu jianzhi [A brief description of Wa language]. Beijing: Publishing House of Minority Nationalities.
  9. Zhou, Zhizhi & Yan, Qixiang & Chen, Guoqing
    2004 Wayu fangyan yanjiu [Research on Wa dialects]. Beijing: Publishing House of Minority Nationalities.

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Austroasiatic; diachronic phonology; Palaungic; synchronic; Wa cluster
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error