Huizhou Chinese

徽州話 / 徽州话
Native to China
Region Huizhou, southern Anhui, neighbouring portions of Zhejiang and Jiangxi
Native speakers
4.6 million (2000)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 czh
Glottolog huiz1242[2]
Huizhou Chinese
Traditional Chinese 徽州話
Simplified Chinese 徽州话
Hanyu Pinyin Huīzhōu Huà
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 徽語
Simplified Chinese 徽语
Hanyu Pinyin Huī Yu

Huizhou (simplified Chinese: 徽州话; traditional Chinese: 徽州話; pinyin: Huīzhōu-huà) or Hui (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Huī-yǔ), is a group of closely related varieties of Chinese spoken over a small area in and around the historical region of Huizhou (for which it is named), in about ten or so mountainous counties in southern Anhui, plus a few more in neighbouring Zhejiang and Jiangxi.

Although the Hui area is small compared with other Chinese dialect groups, it displays a very high degree of internal variation. Nearly every county has its own distinct dialect unintelligible to a speaker from a few counties away. For this reason, bilingualism and multilingualism are common among speakers of Hui. It is estimated that there are around 4.6 million speakers of Huizhou varieties.[1]


Huizhou Chinese was originally classified as Lower Yangtze Mandarin but it is currently classified separately from it.[3] The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences supported the separation of Huizhou from Lower Yangtze Mandarin in 1987.[4] Its classification is disputed, with some linguists such as Matisoff classifying it as Wu Chinese, others such as Bradley (2007) as Gan, and still others setting it apart as a primary branch of Chinese.


In the Ming and Qing dynasties Jianghuai speakers moved into Hui dialect areas.[5]

Some works of literature produced in Yangzhou, such as Qingfengzha, a novel, contain Jianghuai Mandarin. People in Yangzhou identified by the dialect they speak, locals spoke the dialect, as opposed to sojourners, who spoke other varieties like Huizhou or Wu. This led to the formation of identity based on dialect. Large numbers of merchants from Huizhou lived in Yangzhou and effectively were responsible for keeping the town afloat.[6] Merchants in the later imperial period also sponsored operas and performances in the Hui dialect.[7]


Zhengzhang Shangfang divided Hui varieties into five subgroups, which are also used in the Language Atlas of China:[8][9]

spoken in Jixi, She County, Huizhou, Jingde, and Ningguo, Anhui province, as well as Chun'an, Zhejiang province
spoken in Tunxi, Taiping, Xiuning, Yi County, and Qimen, as well as Wuyuan, Jiangxi province
spoken in Qimen and Dongzhi, Anhui province, as well as Fuliang, Dexing, and Wuyuan, Jiangxi province
spoken in Chun'an and Jiande (formerly Yanzhou Prefecture), Zhejiang province
spoken in Jingde, Qimen, Shitai, Yi County, and Ningguo, Anhui province

Huizhou varieties differ from village to village.[10] People in different villages (even in one county and township) often cannot speak with one other.


Phonologically speaking, Hui is noted for its massive loss of syllable codas, including -i, -u, and nasals:

Character Meaning Hui of Tunxi Wu of Shanghai Huai(Jianghuai) of Hefei Mandarin of Beijing
burn /ɕiɔ/ /sɔ/ /ʂɔ/ /ʂɑu/
firewood /sa/ /za/ /tʂʰɛ/ /tʂʰai/
line /siːɛ/ /ɕi/ /ɕĩ/ /ɕiɛn/
sheet /tɕiau/ /tsɑ̃/ /tʂɑ̃/ /tʂɑŋ/
web /mau/ /mɑ̃/ /wɑ̃/ /wɑŋ/
threshold /kʰɔ/ /kʰɛ/ /kʰã/ /kʰan/

Many Hui dialects have diphthongs with a higher lengthened first part. For example, ("speech") is /uːɜ/ in Xiuning County (Standard Chinese /xuɑ/), ("yard") is /yːɛ/ in Xiuning County (Standard Chinese /yɛn/); ("knot") is /tɕiːaʔ/ in Yi County (Standard Chinese /tɕiɛ/), ("agreement") is /iːuʔ/ in Yi County (Standard Chinese /yɛ/). A few areas take this to extremes. For example, Likou in Qimen County has /fũːmɛ̃/ for ("rice") (Standard Chinese /fan/), with the /m/ appearing directly as a result of the lengthened, nasalized /ũː/.

Because nasal codas have mostly been lost, Hui reuses the 儿 /-n/ ending as a diminutive. For example, in the Tunxi dialect, "rope" is appears as /soːn/ from /soʔ/ + /-n/.


  1. 1 2 Huizhou at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Huizhou Chinese". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Barbara F. Grimes, Joseph Evans Grimes, Summer Institute of Linguistics (2000). Barbara F. Grimes, Joseph Evans Grimes, Summer Institute of Linguistics, ed. Ethnologue, Volume 1 (14 ed.). SIL International. p. 404. ISBN 1-55671-103-4. Retrieved 23 September 2011. Formerly considered to be part of the Jianghuai dialect of Mandarin, but now considered by many to be a separate major variety of Chinese. Dialects are reported to differ greatly from each other. Different from the Huizhou dialect of (the University of Michigan)
  4. Xiao-bin Ji; Eric Dalle (2003). Xiao-bin Ji; Eric Dalle, eds. Facts about China (illustrated ed.). H.W. Wilson. p. 70. ISBN 0-8242-0961-3. Retrieved 23 September 2011. For this reason, the Chinese Academy of Social Science suggested in 1987 that two new groups, the Jin and the Hui, be separated from the northwestern and the Jiang-Huai Mandarin subgroups. Distinctive Features: Mandarin dialects are (the University of California)
  5. Hilary Chappell (2004). Hilary Chappell, ed. (illustrated, reprint ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 17. ISBN 0-19-927213-1 Retrieved 23 September 2011. According to Hirata, however, Hui is composed of many layers: its dialects are spoken in an area originally occupied by the Yue i* tribe, suggestive of a possible substrate, later to be overlaid by migrations from Northern China in the Medieval Nanbeichao period and the Tang and Song dynasties. This was followed by the Jiang-Huai Mandarin dialects of the migrants who arrived during the Ming and Qing periods, and more recently by Wu dialects in particular, acquired by peripatetic Hui merchants who have represented an active Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. Lucie B. Olivová, Vibeke Børdahl, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (2009). Lucie B. Olivová, Vibeke Børdahl, ed. Lifestyle and entertainment in Yangzhou (illustrated ed.). NIAS Press. p. 184. ISBN 87-7694-035-7. Retrieved 23 September 2011. Some grammatical features of Yangzhou dialect are shared with Jianghuai Mandarin. Others may be of more limited usage but are used in Dingyuan County (the setting of Qingfengzha), which belongs to the same subgroup of Jianghuai.
  7. Guo, Qitao (2005). Ritual Opera and Mercantile Lineage: The Confucian Transformation of Popular Culture in Late Imperial Huizhou. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0804750327.
  8. Yan, Margaret Mian (2006). Introduction to Chinese Dialectology. LINCOM Europa. pp. 222–223. ISBN 978-3-89586-629-6.
  9. Kurpaska, Maria (2010). Chinese Language(s): A Look Through the Prism of "The Great Dictionary of Modern Chinese Dialects". Walter de Gruyter. p. 69. ISBN 978-3-11-021914-2.
  10. 孟庆惠; 安徽省地方志编纂委员会. 安徽省志 方言志 - 第五篇 皖南徽语 (PDF). 方志出版社. p. 412.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/1/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.