|Also Known As: Ngio,Tai Yai,Ngeo,Sam,Ngiao,Thai Yai,Great Thai,Sha,Tai Yay,Ngiaw,Thai Yay,Tai Luang,Ngiow,Tai Shan,Mau,Dehong,Shan
Shan (Shan: , pronounced [lɪ̀ɡ tɑ́ɪ]; Thai: ภาษาไทใหญ่, [pʰɑːsɑ̌ːtʰɑɪyɑ̀ɪ]) is related to the Thai language and is called Tai-Yai, or Tai Long in the Tai languages. It is spoken in Northeast Burma, that is to say, in the Shan States of Burma, and in pockets in Northern Thailand. There are also Shan people and Shan speakers in the Xishuangbanna (Sipsongpanna) Dai Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan province in southwestern China, which lies just across the eastern border from the Shan States of Burma. It has five tones and is a part of the Kam-Tai or Kadai language family, which are found from Northern Burma and India on the west through Southern China on the north, and Laos on the east.
The term "Shan" is believed to be a Burmese variation on "Siam," which surely indicates that the ethnic Burmese believed that the "Shan" were a Thai (Tai) people.
Studies of the Shan are complicated by the civil war within Burma and the difficulty of escaping to Thailand.
The number of Shan speakers is not known, in part because the Shan population is unknown. Estimates range from 4 million to 30 million, though it is likely that the true number of Shan is somewhere around 6 million, with about half..... full article at Wikipedia