Zoulei is an endangered language spoken by several hundred speakers in China’s Guizhou Province and adjacent areas. It is a variety of the Ahou dialect of the highly diverse Gelao group within the Tai-Kadai language family. Zoulei is a typical isolating and analytic language, basically monosyllabic, particularly with verbs, with a number of striking features that are generally not found in other members of the Tai-Kadai family. The language is also marked by a rich phoneme inventory and lexical tone, compounding, serial verb constructions and strong head-initial constituent order, as well as a vocabulary that may enhance our understanding of the early history and culture of this region.
In the opening chapters, the volume describes the social, cultural, and linguistic organization of this group, outlines the main points of Zoulei phonology, and presents an overview of the grammar. In succeeding chapters, it examines a number of grammatical topics in greater detail, including phrase and clause structure, verbal syntax, discourse particles, among others. The volume also includes a vocabulary and several texts recorded from village elders.