Palaung is a member of the Palaungic branch of the Austroasiatic language family. It is spoken by about 668,000 people mainly Shan State in Burma / Myanmar, and also in neighbouring parts of China and Thailand. There are three varieties of Palaung: Ruching, Rumai and Shwe, which are classified as separate languages by some people.
Ruching has about 273,000 speakers, and is also known as Da'ang, Di-Ang, Ngwe Palaung, Palay or Silver Palaung. In 2000 there were about 258,000 speakers of Ruching in the Mandalay region and Shan state in Myanmar. In 2010 there were 10,300 speakers of Ruching in Yunnan province in southern China. In 1989 there were 5,000 speakers of Ruching in Chiang Mai province of Thailand.
Rumai has about 162,000 speakers, and is also known as Humai, Ngwe Palaung, Rumai, Rumai Humai, Shan Rumai, Silver Palaung, Ta'ang, Ta'ang Rumai or Tai Rumai. In 2017 there were about 158,000 speakers of Rumai in Kachin and Shan states in Myanmar, and there were about 4,000 speakers in Yunnan province in southern China in 2010.
Shwe has about 233,000 speakers, and is also known as Golden Palaung, Liang, Red Da'ang, Shwe Palaung, Ta'ang Samlung and Ta-Ang Palaung. In 2017 there were about 231,000 speakers of Shwe in Shan state in Myanmar, and there were 2,000 speakers in Yunnan province in southern China in 1995.
Since the beginning of the 20th century various ways to write Palaung with the Burmese, Mon, Shan, Latin and other scripts. A literature committee was set up in 1965 with the aim of creating a unified writing system. An orthography for Shwe using the Burmese script emerged in 1972. It has been modified slightly since then.
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