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Hangzhou dialect
Pronunciation [han.tsei.wu]
Spoken in People's Republic of China
Region Hangzhou, Zhejiang province
Total speakers approx. 3-4 million
Language family Sino-Tibetan
Language codes
ISO 639-1 zh
ISO 639-2 chi (B)  zho (T)
ISO 639-3 wuu

The Hangzhou dialect, or Rhangzei Rhwa (simplified Chinese: 杭州话traditional Chinese: 杭州話pinyin: hángzhōuhuà), is spoken in the city of Hangzhou and its immediate suburbs, but excluding areas further away from Hangzhou such as Xiāoshān (蕭山) and Yúháng (余杭) (both originally county-level cities and now the districts within Hangzhou City). The number of speakers of the Hangzhou dialect has been estimated to be about 1.2 to 1.5 million. It belongs to the Wu language family, which in turn constitutes one of the Sinitic language families. The Hangzhou dialect is of immense interest to Chinese historical phonologists and dialectologists because phonologically, it exhibits extensive similarities with the other Wu languages; however, grammatically and lexically, it shows many Mandarin tendencies. (Simmons 1995)



Geographic distribution


Phonetics and phonology


Consonants of Hangzhou dialect
  bilabial labio-dental alveolar alveolo-palatal velar glottal
nasal m   n ɲ ŋ  
plosives voiced b   d   ɡ  
voiceless unaspirated p   t   k ʔ
voiceless aspirated      
fricatives voiced   v z     ɦ
voiceless   f s ɕ   h
affricates voiced     dz    
voiceless unaspirated     ts    
voiceless aspirated     tsʰ tɕʰ  
approximants   ʋ ɹ      
lateral approximants     l    





Syllable structure




Citation tones

The Hangzhou tonal system is similar to that of the Suzhou dialect, in that some words with shàng tone in Middle Chinese have merged with the yīn qù tone. Since the tone split dating from Middle Chinese still depends on the voicing of the initial consonant, these constitute just three phonemic tones: pin, shang, and qu. (Ru syllables are phonemically toneless.)

Tone chart of Hangzhou dialect
Tone number Tone name Tone letters Description
1 yin ping (陰平) ˧˨˧ (323) mid dipping
2 yang ping (陽平) ˨˩˨ (212) low dipping
3 shang (上) ˥˩ (51) falling
4 yin qu (陰去) ˧˦ (334) mid rising
5 yang qu (陽去) ˩˧ (113) low rising
6 yin ru (陰入) ˥ʔ (55) high checked
7 yang ru (陽入) ˩˨ʔ (12) low checked

Tone sandhi






The most important event to impact on Hangzhou's dialect was its establishment as Ling'an, the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty. When the Northern Song Dynasty was conquered by the Jin Dynasty in 1127, large numbers of northern refugees fled to what is now Hangzhou, speaking predominantly Mandarin of the Henan variety. Within 30 years, contemporary accounts record that immigrants outnumbered natives in Hangzhou. This resulted in Mandarin influences in the pronunciation, lexicon and grammar of the Hangzhou dialect.

Further influence by Mandarin occurred after the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty in 1912. The local Manchu garrisons were dissolved, adding significant numbers of Beijing dialect Mandarin speakers to the population.

Because of the frequent commerce and intercourse between Hangzhou and Shaoxing, the Hangzhou dialect is also influenced by the Shaoxing dialect.


See also


  • Qián,nǎiróng (1992). Dāngdài Wúyǔ yánjiū. (Contemporary Wu linguistics studies). Shànghǎi: shànghǎi jiàoyù chūbǎnshè. (錢乃榮. 1992. 當代吳語研究. 上海敎育出版社) ISBN 7-5320-2355-9

External links


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