The Dai Lue Dictionary has been compiled to support the development and growth of the Dai Lue language and the thousands of people who speak it. This bilingual dictionary introduces the Dai Lue language to English speakers, and introduces the English language to Dai Lue speakers. It illustrates the beauty and variety of the Dai Lue language, and will help a language learner to grow in vocabulary, grammar and idiomatic usage.
Dai Lue is a Tai-Kadai language spoken in the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan Province in China. There are also large Lue communities in Myanmar (in Muang Yong), Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. This dictionary is based on Dai Lue as spoken in China. There are 200,000 Dai Lue people in China, and possibly a total of 300,000 people worldwide.
Dai Lue has had its own alphabet and its own literature for the past seven hundred years. Dai is an officially recognized nationality in China and its development is supported by government policy. In the 1950s the old Dai Lue alphabet was reformed and simplified with the support of Chinese linguists. This new Dai Lue script has been taught to children in the schools since then, and is the script that is used in this dictionary. This script is seen in newspapers and road signs in the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture.
The Dai Lue orthography emerged in the 1300s at the same time as the similar orthographies of Thai, Lao, Khmer and Burmese. Although these scripts look different from each other today, all can trace their roots to the Devanagari script that was used in India, and was brought to Southeast Asia with the spread of Buddhism.
The dictionary contains over 13,000 Dai Lue entries and over 7000 example sentences with translations into English. There is a reverse index in English, and also a partial index in Thai (many Thai tourists visit Xishuangbanna). The example sentences come mostly from a corpus of Dai Lue texts, which includes both traditional and modern literature. Example sentences are used to illustrate the word in context, and to highlight frequent collocations. The example sentences will be invaluable for English speakers who are learning Dai Lue, and for Dai Lue people who are learning English.
The Dai Lue language, in common with other Tai languages, has no tense endings on verbs or plural endings on nouns. Each word has only one form, which is the one listed in the Dictionary. However, compound words are prominent, and about 60% of the words in this Dictionary are compound words.
Two interesting classes of words in Dai Lue are onomatopoeia, and final particles. Onomatopoetic words imitate sounds, emotions and distinctive actions, and are common in Dai Lue, especially in oral usage. Final particles have both grammatical functions and emotive functions. The system of pronouns is also very different from English pronouns. You can search for words of any part of speech in the Search box.
An extensive group of classifiers is used when counting. The classifier for each Dai Lue noun is listed in the dictionary. Some words have several classifiers that are used in different contexts. See banana as an example of a word with four classifiers.
Many Dai Lue people have extensive knowledge of different species of plants and animals, with names for all of them. They can draw a circle on the ground and name twenty kinds of grasses and small plants in that space! Words for plants and animals are listed along with their Latin genus-species name where they are known. See basil for an example. We regret that there are not more of these terms listed in the dictionary. Please help us to add more!
The most common words in Dai Lue are marked in the dictionary. This frequency count is based on a corpus of 500,000 words of Dai Lue texts, which includes books about agriculture, raising animals, medical advice, electricity, and history as well as traditional and modern literature and children's readers. Search to see the 500 most common words, or the 2000 most common words in the language! This is a great way to start learning Dai Lue.
The Dai Lue people in Xishuangbanna have borrowed many words from Chinese. Chinese loanwords that are accepted as genuine Dai Lue words are entered in the dictionary. See for instance ᦛᦱᧃᧈ ‘bowl’ from 碗 and ᦶᦎᧃᧈ ‘electricity’ from 电.
Every entry in this dictionary has a Comment box so that you can make comments, ask questions, and point out our errors. If you speak Dai Lue please take advantage of this opportunity to correct the many mistakes that are sure to be in this dictionary. If you are learning Dai Lue you can use this to ask for further information, or to suggest the kind of information you would like to see in the dictionary.