The Language of the Chinese Shan

I am proud to announce that I have officially created the first Memrise course for learning the Dehong Dai script, otherwise known as Tai Le (ᥖᥭᥰᥘᥫᥴ)!

Link to the course:

Tai Le is used for writing the Dehong Dai language, which is also known as Tai Nüa or Chinese Shan. Dehong Dai is spoken by roughly 700,000 people in the Dehong prefecture of Yunnan, China and is the native language of the Chinese branch of the Shan people, who are also known as the Tai-Long.


Dehong Dai contains 19 consonants.

All of these consonants are initials except the character ᥢ. The character ᥑ [x] is a voiceless velar fricative. Please learn how to pronounce this sound here:

Also, the character ᥟ [ʔ] is pronounced as a glottal stop. Vowels that occur initially in a word or syllable are preceded by the vowel carrier ᥟ and all consonants have an inherent vowel /a/ unless followed by a dependent vowel sign.


Dehong Dai has 10 vowels.

Note: If a word ends with the sound “oo”, then it must be written as ᥨᥝ.


Dehong Dai has 14 diphthongs.


Dehong Dai is a tonal language and has six tones.

Memrise Language Course

This simple Memrise course serves as a taste of a project I have been working on for the past three months, a full language course on Dehong Dai. After developing a simple romanisation system for Dehong Dai, I started creating lessons for learners and a simple progression system. The upcoming Memrise course will teach learners how to construct sentences and express themselves in basic conversation. The course, however, will not use the Dehong Dai script, but rather the romanisation I have created for the sake of simplicity (the actual word written in Tai Le will be available for viewing, however).

About the Language

Dehong Dai is the language of my ancestors, and unfortunately, it is on the verge of becoming an endangered language. I started this project after reading information and lessons on Dehong Dai online and became inspired to help continue the legacy of this beautiful language. Despite being tonal, the course and language itself is quite easy and will not require extensive learning in grammatical conjugations and outrageous particles. Speakers of Thai and Chinese may find this language extremely easy to learn due to lexical and syntactic similarities. I have been studying Shan myself since I was sixteen and have travelled to Shan State, Myanmar on various occasions. I am quite passionate about Shan culture and issues, and I intend to study Southeast Asian politics at University.

I look forward to seeing interested learners using this course to learn how to read the Dehong Dai script! Please leave comments below or contact me for assistance in learning Dehong Dai and Shan.

An example text of 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 in Tai Le.

Once again, here is this link to the Memrise course:

For more information on Dehong Dai: