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has suggested that Bai may be an outlier Sinitic language with a Qiangic substratum, noting that Bai has both a Sino-Bai vocabulary layer and a pre-Bai vocabulary layer.
Bai has a basic syntactic order of subject–verb–object (SVO).
The Sinologist Jerry Norman has stated: "While it would probably be going too far to consider Bái a Sinitic [Chinese] dialect, its close links to Sinitic cannot easily be dismissed." argue that Bai is a Tibeto-Burman language that has borrowed very heavily from Old Chinese.The language has over a million speakers and is divided into three main dialects.It is a tonal language with eight tones and a rather rich set of vowels.Bijiang is more divergent, and may itself be two languages, Panyi and Lama, the latter mixed with Nung.The Laemae (, Leimai, Leimo), a clan numbering about 50,000 people who are submerged within the Lisu, are reported to speak a "Bai group language" (Bradley 203).