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Suzhou dialect
蘇州閒話
Spoken in People's Republic of China
Region Suzhou, Jiangsu province
Total speakers approx. 5-7 million
Language family Sino-Tibetan
Language codes
ISO 639-1 zh
ISO 639-2 chi (B)  zho (T)
ISO 639-3 wuu

Suzhou dialect (simplified Chinese: 苏州话traditional Chinese: 蘇州話pinyin: Sūzhōu huà; Native name: 蘇州閒話) is a dialect of Wu, one of the subdivisions of Chinese spoken language. It is spoken in the city of Suzhou, in Jiangsu province of China, and is the traditional prestige dialect of Wu.

It is typical of the Wu dialects, being rich in vowels and conservative in having many initials. It has many similarities with the Shanghai dialect.

Contents

Distribution

Considered one of the most flowing and elegant languages of China, often called effeminate, especially by the Shanghainese, the Suzhou dialect is mutually intelligible with dialects spoken in neighbouring Shanghai, and the dialects spoken its satellite cities of Kunshan, Changshu, Zhangjiagang etc. It has noticeable differences with Wuxi dialect, although this does not render the two dialects unintelligible to each other. It is also partially intelligible with dialects spoken in Hangzhou and Ningbo. Neither native Mandarin nor Cantonese speakers understand Suzhou dialect.

Due to the city's population flow patterns, many Suzhou-area residents native to the city do not speak Suzhou dialect, but can usually understand it, although the level of fluency varies. Standard Mandarin, therefore, is spoken throughout the city.

Phonology

Initials

Initials of Suzhou dialect
  Bilabial Labio-
dental
Dental Alveolo-
palatal
Velar Glottal
Nasal m   n ɲ ŋ  
Plosive aspirated      
voiceless p   t   k ʔ
voiced b   d   ɡ  
affricates aspirated     tsʰ tɕʰ  
voiceless     ts    
voiced          
Fricative voiceless   f s ɕ   h
voiced   v z     ɦ
Lateral     l    

Suzhou dialect has a set of voiced initials and exhibits unvoiced unaspirated and aspirated stops, there are unvoiced and voiced fricatives sets. Moreover, palatized initials also feature.

Rimes

Vowels Diphthongs Triphthongs Nasals Glottals
      m, n, ŋ, l  
ɨ        

 

ɥ        
i iø, io, iæɐ, iɒ iøʏ in, ioŋ, iã, iɒ̃ ɪʔ(iəʔ), ioʔ, iaʔ, iɒʔ
y     yən yɤʔ
u uø, uE, uɒ   uən, uɒ̃, uã uɤʔ, uaʔ
ɪ(iɪ)        
ø øʏ      
         
o    
  əu   ən ɤʔ
E        
         
æɐ        
      ã
ɑ        
ɒ     ɒ̃ ɒʔ

Suzhou has one tripthong rhyme, [ iøʏ ]. Unlike Shanghai, it has no nasalised rhymes, though it does have a set of rhymes that end in a nasal stop. Middle Chinese entering tone characters which end in [ -p -t -k ] end as a glottal stop [ -ʔ ] in Suzhou. Middle Chinese nasal endings [ -m ] have merged with rhymes that end with [ -n ] in Suzhou. Middle Chinese [ -ŋ ] ending rhymes have split into two types in Suzhou. Those with a high-fronted main vowel merge with [ -n ] ending rhymes. Those with a palatising medial [ -i- ] and back main vowel retain the [ -ŋ ] ending.

Tones

Suzhou is considered to have seven tones. However, 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 Suzhou dialect
Tone number Tone name Tone letters Description
1 yin ping (陰平) ˦ (44) high
2 yang ping (陽平) ˨˨˦ (224) level-rising
3 shang (上) ˥˨ (52) high falling
4 yin qu (陰去) ˦˩˨ (412) dipping
5 yang qu (陽去) ˨˧˩ (231) rising-falling
6 yin ru (陰入) ˦ʔ (4) high checked
7 yang ru (陽入) ˨˧ʔ (23) rising checked

In Suzhou, part of the Middle Chinese Shang tone characters has merged with the modern yin qu tone.

Romanization

See also

External links


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