In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Hmong-Mien Languages

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Edited Collections
  • Bibliographies
  • Journals
  • Hmong-Mien Languages in Areal Context
  • Phonetics
  • Phonology
  • Morphology
  • Semantics
  • Discourse Analysis and Sociolinguistics
  • Writing Systems
  • Traditional Literature

Linguistics Hmong-Mien Languages
David Mortensen
  • LAST REVIEWED: 30 August 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 13 January 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199772810-0173


Hmong-Mien is a compact language family of East and Southeast Asia. Its speakers are found primarily in southern China and the northern highlands of Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar (Burma). Most speakers of Hmong-Mien languages belong to the so-called Miao and Yao ethnicities (or nationalities). Due to geopolitical circumstances, many speakers of two Hmong-Mien languages from Laos—Hmong and Iu Mien—emigrated to Western countries (the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina, France, French Guyana, and Germany) between 1970 and 1998, leading to the current worldwide distribution of this language family. Hmong-Mien has two primary branches: Hmongic and Mienic. Hmongic is larger (in terms of number of speakers) and has greater internal diversity. It has also been the focus of more efforts at documentation. As a result, more literature is available on Hmongic languages than Mienic languages. This bibliography represents an attempt to include as many resources on Mienic as possible but nevertheless reflects this fundamental imbalance in sources.

General Overviews

There are several useful overviews of Hmong-Mien languages, all of which are either lamentably brief or not available in English. An early overview that still may be useful is given in Strecker 1987. Hmong-Mien studies have developed considerably since this article was published, particularly with regard to the classification of Ho Ne (Ho Nte or She), but Strecker 1987 still provides a useful guide to the terminology used for major language varieties in Hmong-Mien. Another, very brief, overview is given in Ratliff 1994. A more recent overview is found in the first chapter of Ratliff 2010.

  • Ratliff, Martha. 1994. Hmong-Mien (Miao-Yao) languages. In The encyclopedia of language and linguistics. Vol. 3. Edited by Ronald E. Asher and J. M. Y. Simpson, 1586–1587. New York: Pergamon.

    A useful, brief overview of the Hmong-Mien language family.

  • Ratliff, Martha S. 2010. Hmong-Mien language history. Canberra, Australia: Pacific Linguistics.

    While this book is primarily about the history of Hmong-Mien, the first chapter (pp. 1–9) provides a useful overview of the Hmong-Mien language family.

  • Strecker, David. 1987. The Hmong-Mien languages. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 10.2: 1–11.

    This somewhat dated introduction is useful as a guide to terminology used for Hmong-Mien language varieties.

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