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Newly Launched: Yi Languages Translation Services

Most people believe the language of China is Chinese—but in fact, there’s no one single language called “Chinese.” Chinese is, instead, a language family consisting of dozens of individual languages more distinct than the Romance languages of Europe. But outside of the Chinese language family are many other languages also spoken within the expansive borders of China by ethnic minority groups. In some cases, these minority languages boast a high number of native speakers, as is the case of the Yi languages in southern China.

The Yi languages, officially classified as the Loloish family and sometimes known as the Ngwi or Nisoic languages, are native to the southern Chinese provinces of Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou, and Guanxi. The total number of Yi language speakers is estimated at around 9 million, with Nuosu (also called Northern Yi, Liangshan Yi, and Sichuan Yi), the prestige language of the family, claiming 2 million of those speakers. While most people in China, including ethnic minorities, speak Mandarin, a 1994 estimate suggested that as many as 60% of Nuosu speakers were monolingual.

Unfortunately, minority languages in China are generally overshadowed by the ubiquity and prominence of Mandarin and therefore receive little attention, including scarce translation services. We here at are here to change that, which is why we’re proud to introduce our Yi translation services.

Want to see a free quote for our Yi translation services? Simply reach out and ask!

A quick overview of the Yi languages

The Yi languages comprise the Loloish subfamily of the wider Sino–Tibetan language family. This means they’re distantly related to the Chinese languages, although they’re actually closer to Burmese. The Yi family consists of 50 to 100 distinct languages, many of which are mutually unintelligible, sharing only 25% to 50% of vocabulary. The Chinese government officially recognizes six Yi languages:

  • Northern Yi (Nuosu)

  • Western Yi (Lalo)

  • Central Yi (Lolopo)

  • Southern Yi (Nisu)

  • Southeastern Yi (Sani)

  • Eastern Yi (Nasu)

Other major Yi languages include the following:

  • Lisu

  • Lipo

  • Micha

  • Lalu

  • Akha

  • Hani

  • Phowa

  • Naxi

  • Azhe

Like the Chinese languages, the Yi languages share a common script, and while it may look similar to Chinese characters to the untrained eye, the glyphs are entirely distinct. The Yi script is a syllabary with more than 750 possible characters formed by combinations of consonants and vowels. Although this script unites the distinct Yi languages, only Nuosu has a standardized script.

In terms of grammar, Yi languages exhibit little to no inflection, relying heavily on particles and other function words to express grammatical meaning. The basic word order is usually subject-object-verb, and like in the Chinese languages, different classifiers are used when counting nouns. Yi languages are also tonal, like the Chinese languages.

We’re proud to translate to and from all Yi languages.

The Yi languages are an important minority language family in China, with more than 2 million people speaking Nuosu alone. We’ve scouted out talented translators for different Yi languages, including Nuosu, Lalo, Lolopo, Nisu, Sani, Nasu, Naxi, and more, so whatever your Yi translation needs are, we’re ready to help. Our translation services are available both from English to Yi and from Yi to English for a wide range of documents, including the following:

  • Business materials: Whether you’re a local Yi business that wants to branch out to the wider world or an international company looking to set up shop in Liangshan, our translators can help you tailor your promotional materials and internal business documents to the international community or the Yi people, depending on your needs.

  • Pedagogical materials: Our team is proud to assist with the translation of educational materials into Yi, allowing Yi-speaking children to learn comfortably in their native language.

  • Tourism materials: If you’re a Yi-speaking business catering to the international tourists who come to enjoy the natural beauty of Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou, and Guangxi, our Yi translation team will equip you with reliable English translations of your tourism documents.

  • Historical materials: The Yi people boast a long history in modern-day southern China, with the Yi script dating back to at least the 1400s. If you have historical documents in a Yi language that you’d like professionally translated, you’ve come to the right team.

  • Entertainment materials: Our team is happy to translate any sort of literary or digital content, be it traditional Yi literature or a brand-new mobile app. Whether you’re working with Nuosu, Lalo, Naxi, Sani, or another Yi language, our careful attention to detail will ensure a smooth, reliable translation of even tricky literary texts.

Are you ready to get started with Yi translation services? All you have to do is get in touch with our team!


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Professional human translation for any language, any topic

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