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平話 / 平话
Pinghua written in Chinese characters
Native to China
Region Guangxi
Native speakers
7+ million (2016) [1]
  • Northern Ping
  • Southern Ping
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Either:
csp   Southern Ping Chinese
cnp   Northern Ping Chinese
Glottolog ping1245
Linguasphere 79-AAA-o
Idioma ping.png
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 平話
Simplified Chinese 平话
Cantonese Yale Pìhng Wá
Hanyu Pinyin Píng Huà
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 廣西平話
Simplified Chinese 广西平话
Cantonese Yale Gwóngsāi Pìhng Wá
Hanyu Pinyin Guǎngxī Píng Huà
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Pinghua (simplified Chinese :平话; traditional Chinese :平話; pinyin :Pínghuà; Yale: Pìhng Wá; sometimes disambiguated as Chinese :廣西平話/广西平话) is a pair of Sinitic languages spoken mainly in parts of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, with some speakers in Hunan province. Pinghua is a trade language in some areas of Guangxi, where it is spoken as a second language by speakers of Zhuang languages. Some speakers of Pinghua are officially classified as Zhuang, and many are genetically distinct from most other Han Chinese. [2] The northern subgroup of Pinghua is centered on Guilin and the southern subgroup around Nanning. Southern Pinghua has several notable features such as having four distinct checked tones, and using various loanwords from the Zhuang languages, such as the final particle wei for imperative sentences.


History and classification

Language surveys in Guangxi during the 1950s recorded varieties of Chinese that had been included in the Yue dialect group but were different from those in Guangdong. Pinghua was designated as a separate dialect group from Yue by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in the 1980s [3] :15 and since then has been treated as a separate dialect in textbooks and surveys. [4]

Since designation as a separate dialect group, Pinghua has been the focus of increased research. In 2008 a report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences of research into Chinese varieties noted an increase in research papers and surveys of Pinghua, from 7 before the 1987 publication of the Language Atlas of China based on the revised classification, and about 156 between then and 2004. [5]

In the 1980s the number of speakers was listed as over 2 million; [3] :21 and by 2016 as 7 million. [6]

Pinghua is divided into two mutually unintelligible languages: [7]


Nanning Pinghua has a voiceless lateral fricative [ ɬ ] for Middle Chinese /s/ or /z/, for example in the numbers /ɬam/ "three" and /ɬi/ "four". [10] [11] This is unlike Standard Cantonese but like some other Yue varieties such as Taishanese.


Southern Pinghua has six contrasting tones in open syllables, and four in checked syllables, [12] as found in neighbouring Yue varieties such as the Bobai dialect.

Tones of Nanning Pinghua
Tone name Level
52 [˥˨]33 [˧]55 [˥]5 [˥]
3 [˧]
21 [˨˩]24 [˨˦]22 [˨]23 [˨˧]
2 [˨]

The split of the lower entering tone is determined by the initial consonant, with the low rising contour occurring after sonorant initials. [13]


Genetically, Pinghua speakers have more in common with non-Han ethnic minorities in southern China than with other Han groups. [2]

Related Research Articles

Yue Chinese Primary branch of Chinese spoken in southern China

Yue is a group of similar Sinitic languages spoken in Southern China, particularly the provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi, which are collectively known as Liangguang.

Shaozhou Tuhua, or simply Tuhua, is an unclassified Chinese variety spoken in the northern region of the Guangdong and Guangxi provinces. It is mutually unintelligible with Xiang, Cantonese, and Mandarin.

The Danzhou dialect, locally known as Xianghua, is a Chinese variety of uncertain affiliation spoken in the area of Danzhou in northwestern Hainan, China. It was classified as Yue in the Language Atlas of China, but in more recent work is treated as an unclassified southern variety.

Southwestern Mandarin A primary branch of Mandarin Chinese

Southwestern Mandarin, also known as Upper Yangtze Mandarin, is a Mandarin Chinese language spoken in much of Central and Southwestern China, including in Sichuan, Yunnan, Chongqing, Guizhou, most parts of Hubei, the northwestern part of Hunan, the northern part of Guangxi and some southern parts of Shaanxi and Gansu. Southwest Mandarin is about 50% mutually intelligible with Standard Chinese.

Leizhou Min

Leizhou Min is a branch of Min Chinese spoken in Leizhou city, Xuwen County, Mazhang District, most parts of Suixi County and also spoken inside of the linguistically diverse Xiashan District. In the classification of Yuan Jiahua, it was included in the Southern Min group, though it has low intelligibility with other Southern Min varieties. In the classification of Li Rong, used by the Language Atlas of China, it was treated as a separate Min subgroup. Hou Jingyi combined it with Hainanese in a Qiong–Lei group.

Wuming District District in Guangxi, Peoples Republic of China

Wuming District is one of 7 districts of the prefecture-level city of Nanning, the capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, South China. The district was approved to build from the dissolution of the former Wuming County (武鸣县) by the Chinese State Council on February 16, 2015. Located north of the city proper, it borders the prefecture-level city of Baise to the west.

Yong-Xun Yue

Yong–Xun, is a western branch of Yue Chinese spoken in some cities and towns in Guangxi province, including Nanning, Yongning, Guiping, Chongzuo, Ningmin, Hengzhou, Baise, etc. This branch originates from Guangfu Yue and is therefore close to Standard Cantonese. It also absorbed some phonemes and words from the local languages Pinghua and Zhuang.

Qin-Lian Yue

Qin–Lian is a southern branch of Yue Chinese spoken in the coastal part of Guangxi, which is represented by four traditional cities Qinzhou, Lianzhou, Lingshan and Fangcheng (欽廉靈防) or by three modern prefecture-level cities Qinzhou, Beihai and Fangcheng (欽北防).

Standard Zhuang Standard variety and register of the Zhuang Tai (Kra-Dai) language cluster

Standard Zhuang is the official standardized form of the Zhuang languages, which are a branch of the Northern Tai languages. Its pronunciation is based on that of the Yongbei Zhuang dialect of Shuangqiao, Guangxi in Wuming District, Guangxi with some influence from Fuliang, also in Wuming District, while its vocabulary is based mainly on northern dialects. The official standard covers both spoken and written Zhuang. It is the national standard of the Zhuang languages, though in Yunnan a local standard is used.

The Tongdao Pinghua is a variety of Guibei Pinghua (桂北平话) influenced by Kam (Dong). It is spoken by about 25,000 people in Tongdao Dong Autonomous County, Hunan, China.

Sawndip Ideographic writing system of the Zhuang language

Zhuang characters or Sawndip, are logograms derived from Chinese characters and used by the Zhuang people of Guangxi and Yunnan, China to write the Zhuang languages for more than one thousand years. The script is not only used by the Zhuang but also by the closely related Bouyei in Guizhou, China and Tay in Vietnam and Nùng, in Yunnan, China and Vietnam. Sawndip is a Zhuang word that means "immature characters". The Zhuang word for Chinese characters used in the Chinese language is sawgun ; gun is the Zhuang term for the Han Chinese. Even now, in traditional and less formal domains, Sawndip is more often used than alphabetical scripts.

Jizhao is an unclassified Kra-Dai language spoken in Jizhao Village 吉兆村, Tanba Town 覃巴镇, Wuchuan, Guangdong. It may be most closely related to Be. In Wuchuan, Jizhao is locally referred to as Haihua 海话, which is the term used elsewhere in Leizhou 雷州, Xuwen 徐闻, and Maoming 茂名 to refer to the local Minnan Chinese dialect of Leizhou. The speakers are being subsumed under "Han Chinese" nationality in census

Shehua is an unclassified Sinitic language spoken by the She people of Southeastern China. It is also called Shanha, 山哈 (San-hak) or Shanhahua, 山哈话. Shehua speakers are located mainly in Fujian and Zhejiang provinces of Southeastern China, with smaller numbers of speakers in a few locations of Jiangxi, Guangdong and Anhui provinces.

The Hailu dialect, also known as the Hoiluk dialect or Hailu Hakka, is a dialect of Hakka Chinese that originated in Shanwei, Guangdong. It is also the second most common dialect of Hakka spoken in Taiwan.

Younian language or Younian dialect is a Pinghua dialect of northern Guangxi, China. It is spoken by ethnic Red Yao people in Longsheng County, Guilin, Guangxi province. There were more than 10,000 native speakers in 1997. It has been documented in detail by Ouyang (2010).

The Huizhou dialect is a Chinese dialect spoken in and around Huicheng District, the traditional urban centre of Huizhou, Guangdong. The locals also call the dialect Bendihua and distinguish it from the dialect spoken in Meixian and Danshui, Huiyang, which they call Hakka.

Protection of the varieties of Chinese

Protection of the varieties of Chinese refers to efforts to protect the continued existence of the varieties of Chinese in Mainland China and other places against pressure to abandon these languages and use Standard Chinese. The Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China has proclaimed to be taking active measures to protect ten varieties of Chinese. However, a large majority of the citizens of China speak a dialect of Mandarin Chinese, a standardized form of which has been enforced and promoted by the communist government of China for the last sixty years. The Constitution of the People's Republic of China calls on the government to promote Putonghua as the common tongue of the nation, but this policy has somewhat causing conflict with plans to preserve local varieties of Chinese. Education and media programming in varieties of Chinese other than Mandarin have been discouraged by the governments of the People's Republic of China, Singapore, and Taiwan. Teaching the varieties of Chinese to non-native speakers is discouraged by the laws of the People's Republic of China in favor of Putonghua. The Guangdong National Language Regulations are a set of laws enacted by the Guangdong provincial government in the People's Republic of China in 2012 to promote the use of Standard Mandarin Chinese in broadcast and print media at the expense of the local standard Cantonese and other related dialects. It has also been labelled a "pro-Mandarin, anti-Yue" legislation.

Wuming Mandarin or Wuming Guanhua, known locally as Wuminghua, is a dialect of Southwestern Mandarin spoken in urban Wuming District, specifically in the towns of Chengxiang and Fucheng. It is a variety that has been influenced substantially by Zhuang, which is the majority language of the district.

Yunfu Cantonese or Yunfu vernacular is a dialect of Yue Chinese spoken in Yunfu, Guangdong, China. It is classified as a variety of Yuehai Yue, or in more recent classification, Guangfu Yue.


  1. Chappell & Lan, "Mandarin and other Sinitic Languages". In Chan, ed., The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Chinese Language
  2. 1 2 Gan, Rui-Jing; Pan, Shang-Ling; Mustavich, Laura F.; Qin, Zhen-Dong; Cai, Xiao-Yun; Qian, Ji; Liu, Cheng-Wu; Peng, Jun-Hua; Li, Shi-Lin; Xu, Jie-Shun; Jin, Li; Li, Hui; The Genographic Consortium (1 April 2008). "Pinghua population as an exception of Han Chinese's coherent genetic structure". Journal of Human Genetics. 53 (4): 303–313. doi: 10.1007/s10038-008-0250-x . PMID   18270655.
  3. 1 2 现代汉语 (Xiàndài Hànyǔ)[Modern Chinese]. Hsing, Fu-I., 邢福义 (Xíng Fúyì). (1st ed.). [Peking]: Gao deng jiao yu chu ban she. 1991. ISBN   704002652X. OCLC   32842413.CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. Kurpaska, Maria (2010). Chinese Language(s): A Look Through the Prism of "The Great Dictionary of Modern Chinese Dialects". Walter de Gruyter. pp. 55–56, 76. ISBN   978-3-11-021914-2.
  5. cass report by 王宏宇 [ permanent dead link ](in Chinese), April 2008
  6. 广西平话研究 Main Editor 余谨 ISBN   978-7-5161-8896-5 page 24
  7. Chappell, Hilary; Li, Lan (2016). "Mandarin and other Sinitic languages". In Chan, Sin-Wai. The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Chinese Language. Routledge. pp. 605–628. ISBN   978-1-317-38249-2. p. 624
  8. de Sousa, Hilário (2016). "Language contact in Nanning: Nanning Pinghua and Nanning Cantonese". In Chappell, Hilary M. (ed.). Diversity in Sinitic Languages. Oxford University Press. pp. 157–189. ISBN   978-0-19-872379-0. p. 162.
  9. de Sousa (2016), p. 160.
  10. Yan, Margaret Mian (2006). Introduction to Chinese Dialectology. LINCOM Europa. p. 204. ISBN   978-3-89586-629-6.
  11. "Learn a language the most natural way - Glossika". Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  12. Tan, Yuanxiong 覃远雄; Wei, Shuguan 韦树关; Bian, Chenglin 卞成林 (1997). Nánníng Pínghuà cídiǎn南宁平话词典[Nanning Pinghua Dictionary]. Nanning: Jiangsu jiaoyu chubanshe. p. 6. ISBN   978-7-5343-3119-0. (part of the Great Dictionary of Modern Chinese Dialects , edited by Li Rong)
  13. Lee, Gina (1993). Comparative, diachronic and experimental perspectives on the interaction between tone and the vowel in Standard Cantonese (PDF) (Ph.D. thesis). Ohio State University. pp. 75–76.

Further reading