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The People’s Republic of China is a nation of fifty-six ethnic groups. The Bai are the fourteenth largest minority group with a total population of 1,858,063. There are many speech varieties of Bai, and understanding between them varies greatly.
The purpose of the research described in this report is to increase the corpus of data available for Bai dialects and make it available both to other researchers and to the relevant authorities, providing them with accurate data upon which to base language policy. The primary goal was to determine centres of communication for selected speech varieties of Bai, that is to say, determine which lects are most widely understood. A secondary goal was to assess the current definitions of dialect boundaries by calculating lexical similarity. To this end, intelligibility testing was carried out in seven locations, and word lists have been compiled for nine locations.
(Originally published in print by Yunnan Nationalities Publishing House, 2004)