Waxiang Chinese

Last updated
Regionwestern Hunan
Native speakers
300,000 (1995) [1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 wxa
Glottolog waxi1236
Dialect map of Hunan.
Waxianhua is the bit of dark blue in the medium blue (SW Mandarin) just above the red (Xiang)

Waxiang (simplified Chinese :瓦乡话; traditional Chinese :瓦鄉話; pinyin :wǎxiānghuà; ɕioŋ˥tsa˧) is a divergent variety of Chinese, [2] [3] spoken by the Waxiang people, an unrecognized ethnic minority group in the northwestern part of Hunan province, China. Waxiang is a distinct language, very different from its surrounding Southwestern Mandarin, Xiang and Qo Xiong languages.

Simplified Chinese characters standardized Chinese characters developed in mainland China

Simplified Chinese characters are standardized Chinese characters prescribed in the Table of General Standard Chinese Characters for use in mainland China. Along with traditional Chinese characters, they are one of the two standard character sets of the contemporary Chinese written language. The government of the People's Republic of China in mainland China has promoted them for use in printing since the 1950s and 1960s to encourage literacy. They are officially used in the People's Republic of China and Singapore.

Traditional Chinese characters Traditional Chinese characters

Traditional Chinese characters are Chinese characters in any character set that does not contain newly created characters or character substitutions performed after 1946. They are most commonly the characters in the standardized character sets of Taiwan, of Hong Kong and Macau, and in the Kangxi Dictionary. The modern shapes of traditional Chinese characters first appeared with the emergence of the clerical script during the Han Dynasty, and have been more or less stable since the 5th century.

Hanyu Pinyin, often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, which is normally written using Chinese characters. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet, and also in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters.



As noted by Laurent Sagart (2011) [4] and others, [5] [6] [7] Waxiang appears to share some words with the Caijia language of western Guizhou. Sagart (2011) considers Caijia to be a sister of Waxiang. Currently, Waxiang is classified as a divergent Chinese variety rather than a non-Sinitic language. [2] [3] Similarities among Old Chinese, Waxiang, Caijia, and Bai have also been pointed out by Wu & Shen (2010). [8]

Laurent Sagart is a senior researcher at the Centre de recherches linguistiques sur l'Asie orientale unit of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS).

Caijia is an endangered Sino-Tibetan language spoken in an area centred on Bijie, in the west of the Chinese province of Guizhou. It was discovered in the 2000s. It has been described by different authors as a relative of Bai or an early branching from Old Chinese. The autonym is.

Guizhou Province

Guizhou is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the southwestern part of the country. Its capital city is Guiyang. Guizhou is a relatively poor and economically undeveloped province, but rich in natural, cultural and environmental resources. Demographically it is one of China's most diverse provinces. Minority groups account for more than 37% of the population.

Qu & Tang (2017) show that Waxiang and Miao (Qo Xiong) have had little mutual influence on each other. [9]


Waxianghua is found in Luxi, Guzhang and Yongshun counties in Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Zhangjiajie prefecture-level city (in Dayong 大庸), and Chenxi, Xupu and Yuanling counties in Huaihua prefecture-level city. Neighboring languages include Southwestern Mandarin, Xiang Chinese, Tujia, Qo Xiong, and Hm Nai.

Luxi County, Hunan County in Hunan, Peoples Republic of China

Luxi County is a county of Hunan Province, China. It is under the administration of Xiangxi Autonomous Prefecture.

Yongshun County County in Hunan, Peoples Republic of China

Yongshun County is a county of Hunan Province, China. It is under the administration of Xiangxi Autonomous Prefecture.

Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture Autonomous Prefecture in Hunan, Peoples Republic of China

Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture is an autonomous prefecture of the People's Republic of China. It is located in western Hunan province. It consists of 1 city, Jishou, and 7 counties: Baojing, Fenghuang, Guzhang, Huayuan, Longshan, Luxi, Yongshun. The capital is Jishou. Twenty-five nationalities gather here, of the total 2,480,000 population, 66.6 per cent are ethnic minorities, including 860,000 Tujia and 790,000 Miao.

The word Wa 瓦 is only a phonetic transcription.

Wu & Shen (2010) report Waxianghua to be spoken in the following villages.

Yuanling County County in Hunan, Peoples Republic of China

Yuanling County is a county of Hunan Province, China, it is under the administration of Huaihua Prefecturel-level City.

Guzhang County County in Hunan, Peoples Republic of China

Guzhang County is a county of Hunan Province, China. The county is the 2nd least populous administrative unit of the counties or county-level cities in the province, it is under the administration of Xiangxi Autonomous Prefecture.

Chenxi County County in Hunan, Peoples Republic of China

Chenxi County is a county in Hunan Province, China, it is under the administration of Huaihua prefecture-level City.

Liubaohua 六保话, a dialect closely related to Waxianghua, is spoken in several villages in southeastern Guazhang County (including in Shaojitian Village 筲箕田村, Shanzao Township 山枣乡) and parts of Luxi County. [10] Liubaohua is spoken in the following locations (Zou 2013).

Conservative features

Waxiang preserves a number of features of Old Chinese not found in most modern varieties of Chinese, such as the initial *l- (which became a voiced dental stop in Middle Chinese): [11]

Waxiang also has some cases of /z/ for Old Chinese *r- (which became l- in Middle Chinese): [12]

In a number of words, Waxiang and Proto-Min have affricate initials where Middle Chinese has sy-: [13]

In some words, Waxiang and Proto-Min have voiced affricates where Middle Chinese has y-: [14]

Waxiang and Caijia

Sagart argues that Waxiang and Caijia together constitute the earliest branching of Chinese. Like Waxiang, Caijia preserves Old Chinese *l-, has a voiced fricative reflex of *r-, and retains the Old Chinese word 'love', which has been replaced by in all other Chinese varieties. Waxiang and Caijia also share two words not found in other Chinese varieties: [4]

See also

Related Research Articles

The Tujia language is a language spoken natively by the Tujia people in south-central China. It is unclassified within the Sino-Tibetan language family, due to pervasive influence from neighboring languages. There are two dialects, Northern and Southern. Both dialects are tonal languages with the tone contours of. The northern dialect has 21 initials, whereas the southern dialect has 26. As for the finals, the northern dialect has 25 and the southern 30, 12 of which are used exclusively in loanwords from Chinese. Its verbs make a distinction of active and passive voices. Its pronouns distinguish the singular and plural numbers along with the basic and possessive cases. As of 2005, the number of speakers was estimated at roughly 70,000 for the northern dialect, and 1,500 for the southern dialect, out of an ethnic population of 8 million.

Guanyang County County in Guangxi, Peoples Republic of China

Guanyang County is a county in the northeast of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China, bordering Hunan province to the east. It is under the administration of Guilin city.

Yongding District, Zhangjiajie District in Hunan, Peoples Republic of China

Yongding District is one of two urban districts in Zhangjiajie City, Hunan Province, China. Located on the south of Zhangjiajie, the district is bordered to the north by Wulingyuan District and Sangzhi County, to the northeast by Cili County, to the east by Taoyuan County, to the southeast by Yuanling County, to the southwest by Yongshun County. Yongding District has an area of 2,208 kilometres (1,372 mi) with 468,300 of registered population. It is divided into 6 subdistricts, 7 towns and 7 subdistricts, its government seat is Xixiping (西溪坪街道).

The Xong language, is the northern-most Hmongic language, spoken in south-central China by ca 0.9 million people. It's called Xiangxi Miaoyu (湘西苗语), Western Hunan Miao, in Chinese. In Western sources, it's been called Eastern Miao, Meo, Red Miao and North Hmongic. The official alphabet was adopted in 1956.

Cao Miao is a variety of Dong (Kam) according to Shi Lin (2012). Dialects include Liushi ("Sixty") Miao 六十苗, Sishi ("Forty") Miao 四十苗, and Ershi ("Twenty") Miao 二十苗. The Flowery Miao 花苗 do not consider themselves to be Cao Miao 草苗, although their language is similar to Sixty Miao and Forty Miao.

Longjia people

The Longjia are an unofficially recognized ethnic group of western Guizhou province, China. They are officially classified as Bai by the Chinese government.

Fanjiang, Xiangxiang Town in Hunan, Peoples Republic of China

Fanjiang Town is a rural town in Xiangxiang City, Xiangtan City, Hunan Province, People's Republic of China.

Sangzi, Xinhua Town in Hunan, Peoples Republic of China

Sangzi Town is a town of Xinhua County in Hunan, China. The town was reformed through the amalgamation of the three townships of Sangzi, Pingxi and Zhegu in 1995.

Shichongkou Town in Hunan, Peoples Republic of China

Shichongkou Town is an urban town in Xinhua County, Loudi City, Hunan Province, People's Republic of China.

The Greater Bai or simply Bai languages are a group of Sino-Tibetan languages proposed by Zhengzhang (2010), who argues that Bai and Caijia are sister languages. In contrast, Sagart (2011) argues that Caijia and the Waxiang language of northwestern Hunan constitute an early branching from Old Chinese. Additionally, Longjia and Luren are two extinct languages of western Guizhou closely related to Caijia.

Longjia is a Sino-Tibetan language of Guizhou, China related to Caijia and Luren. Longjia may already be extinct.

Lu, or Luren (卢人), is an extinct Sino-Tibetan language of Guizhou, China. The Luren language may have been extinct since the 1960s.

Xixiping Subdistrict is a subdistrict and the seat of Yongding District in Zhangjiajie Prefecture-level City, Hunan, China. The subdistrict was reformed through the amalgamation of 6 villages of Sancha Township and the former Yongding Subdistrict on November 27, 2015. It has an area of 222.49 km2 (85.90 sq mi) with a population of 42,000. Its seat is Xixiping Community.


  1. Waxiang at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. 1 2 Baxter, William; Sagart, Laurent (2014). Old Chinese: A New Reconstruction. Oxford University Press. p. 34. ISBN   978-0-19-994537-5.
  3. 1 2 Kurpaska, Maria (2010). Chinese Language(s): A Look Through the Prism of "The Great Dictionary of Modern Chinese Dialects". Walter de Gruyter. p. 73. ISBN   978-3-11-021914-2.
  4. 1 2 Sagart, Laurent. 2011. Classifying Chinese dialects/Sinitic languages on shared innovations. Talk given at Centre de recherches linguistiques sur l’Asie orientale, Norgent sur Marne.
  5. de Sousa, Hilário. 2015. The Far Southern Sinitic Languages as part of Mainland Southeast Asia. In Enfield, N.J. & Comrie, Bernard (eds.), Languages of Mainland Southeast Asia: The state of the art (Pacific Linguistics 649), 356–439. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. doi:10.1515/9781501501685-009.
  6. 湘西瓦乡话“吃饭”【柔摸】读音来历考
  7. 沅陵乡话(船溪)与白语蔡家话个别读音对比
  8. Wu Yunji, Shen Ruiqing [伍云姬、沈瑞清]. 2010. An Investigative Report of Waxianghua of Guzhang County, Xiangxi Prefecture [湘西古丈瓦乡话调查报告]. Shanghai Educational Press [上海教育出版社].
  9. Qu Jianhui 瞿建慧; Tang Jiaxin 唐家新. 2017. 湘西乡话与湘西苗语. Minzu Yuwen, vol. 2.
  10. Zou Xiaoling 邹晓玲. 2013. 湘西古丈县“六保话”的系属.
  11. Baxter & Sagart (2014), p. 109.
  12. Baxter & Sagart (2014), p. 110.
  13. Baxter & Sagart (2014), p. 93.
  14. Baxter & Sagart (2014), p. 189.