Nanjing dialect

Nanjing dialect
Nanjing dialect
Chinese: 南京話
Spoken in People's Republic of China
Region Nanjing, Jiangsu province
Ethnicity Nanjing People (Han Chinese)
Language family
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Nanjing dialect or Nanjing Mandarin is a dialect of Jianghuai Mandarin which is spoken in the city of Nanjing in China.[1]



Nanjing dialect is a dialect of Jianghuai Mandarin, which belongs to the broader Mandarin Chinese family, which is a Sinitic language like all other Chinese languages.


Nanjing Jianghuai Mandarin has preserve the glottal stop as a final and separates the entering tone unlike Northern Mandarin or Southwestern Mandarin, like Northern Mandarin, it keeps the retroflex initials.[2] In Jianghuai Mandarin, the n sound does not exist, being pronounced as L, the opposite occurred in Southwestern Mandarin, where now only the n sound is present while L merged into it, Northern Mandarin on the other hand, keeps both n and L separate. Jianghuai, like Northern Mandarin, also separates the F and X sound in "xu", while in Southwestern Mandarin, X merged into f so that it is pronounced as "fu". In Jianghuai, əŋ has "merged" into iŋ, while the opposite has occurred in Southwestern Mandarin, Northern Mandarin keeps both as separate sounds.[3]

The two finals ŋ and n are the only ones that exist in dialects of Mandarin. The final stops merged into a glottal stop in Jianghuai Mandarin, while in the majority of southwestern Mandarin they are completely eliminated, Northern and Northwest Mandarin have undergone both changes in their varieties of dialects. Nanjing Mandarin is an exception to the normal occurrence of the i, y and u medials in Mandarin, along with is eastern Shanxi and some southwest Mandarin dialects..[4]


Jianghuai Mandarin, of which Nanjing dialect is a member of, was possibly the native language of the founding Emperor of the Ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang and many of his military and civil officials.[5]

The "Guanhua koine" of the early Ming era was based on Jianghuai Guanhua (Jianghuai Mandarin). Western missionaries and Korean Hangul writings of the Ming Guanhua and Nanjing dialect showed differences, which pointed to the Guanhua being a koine and mixture of various dialects strongly based on Jianghuai.[6]

Some linguists have studied the influence which Nanjing Jianghuai Mandarin had on Ming dynasty guanhua/Mandarin.[7] Although the early Ming dynasty Mandarin/Guanhua was a koine based on Nanjing dialect, it was not entirely identical to it, with some non Jianghuai characteristics being found in it. Francisco Varo advised that to learn Chinese one must acquire it from "Not just any Chinese, but only those who have the natural gift of speaking the Mandarin language well, such as those natives of the Province of Nan king, and of other provinces where the Mandarin tongue is spoken well.[8]

History of Expansion

The original dialect of Nanjing was the Wu dialect in the Eastern Jin. After the Wu Hu uprising, the Jin Emperor and many northern Chinese fled south. The new capital of Eastern Jin was created at Jiankang, where modern day Nanjing is today, it was during this time that the Nanjing dialect started to transform into Jianghuai Mandarin from Wu. Further events, such as Hou Jing's rebellions during the Liang dynasty and the Sui dynasty invasion of the Chen dynasty resulted in Jiankang's destruction, during the Ming dynasty, Ming Taizu relocated southerners from below Yangzi and made Nanjing the capital, and during the Taiping Rebellion, Taiping rebels seized Nanjing and made it the capital of the Taiping Kingdom, the fighting resulted in the loss of population of Nanjing. These events all played in role in forming the Nanjing dialect of today.[9]


  1. ^ Anna Wierzbicka (2002). Cliff Goddard, Anna Wierzbicka. ed. Meaning and universal grammar: theory and empirical findings. Volume 60 of Studies in language Amsterdam / Companion series Volume 1 of Meaning and Universal Grammar (illustrated ed.). John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 244. ISBN 9027230633. Retrieved 23 September 2011. "Table 5.1: Five main Mandarin dialect groupings Northern Mandarin Hebei, including Greater Beijing; ... Gansu; Qinghai; Ningxia Northwestern Mandarin areas of Gansu; Xinjiang and Ningxia dialects Jiang-Huai or Xiajiang Nanjing" 
  2. ^ Graham Thurgood, Randy J. LaPolla, ed (2003). The Sino-Tibetan languages. Volume 3 of Routledge language family series (illustrated ed.). Psychology Press. p. 129. ISBN 0700711295. Retrieved 23 September 2011. "3 THE REGIONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF MANDARIN DIALECTS Mandarin dialects can be divided into three regions: Northern Mandarin, Southwestern Mandarin and Jiang- Huai Mandarin. With Putonghua, the Chengdu dialect and the Nanjing dialect as" 
  3. ^ Graham Thurgood, Randy J. LaPolla, ed (2003). The Sino-Tibetan languages. Volume 3 of Routledge language family series (illustrated ed.). Psychology Press. p. 130. ISBN 0700711295. Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  4. ^ Jerry Norman (1988). Chinese (illustrated, reprint ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 193. ISBN 0521296536. Retrieved 23 September 2011. "In the southwestern dialects they are totally lost in most areas; in the Jiang- Huai region (eastern Mandarin) they have mostly merged as glottal stop. In northwestern and northern Mandarin both types of development can be found." 
  5. ^ Ming studies, Issue 56. Ming studies. 2007. p. 107.,+Zhu+Yuanzhang+t%5EtcSj!,+and+a+large+number+of+his+civil+and+military+officials+hailed+from+the+Yangtze+watershed+and+spoke+dialects+of+the+southern+Mandarin+or+Jiang-Huai+type,+to+which+the+dialect+of+Nanjing&dq=The+first+Ming+emperor,+Zhu+Yuanzhang+t%5EtcSj!,+and+a+large+number+of+his+civil+and+military+officials+hailed+from+the+Yangtze+watershed+and+spoke+dialects+of+the+southern+Mandarin+or+Jiang-Huai+type,+to+which+the+dialect+of+Nanjing&hl=en&ei=DfB_Tuu-G-XV0QHf7ZgW&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAA. Retrieved 23 September 2011. "The first Ming emperor, Zhu Yuanzhang t^tcSj!, and a large number of his civil and military officials hailed from the Yangtze watershed and spoke dialects of the southern Mandarin or Jiang-Huai type, to which the dialect of Nanjing" [1]
  6. ^ Ming studies, Issue 56. Ming studies. 2007. p. 108. Retrieved 23 September 2011. "missionary transcriptions and of fifteenth century Korean Guanhua transcriptions in the Hangul alphabet, the two syllable types are clearly distinguished. Guanhua and Nanjingese were clearly different here. Thus, we may suspect that the early Ming Guanhua koine was in reality a linguistic amalgam of some sort, though it certainly had deep roots in the Jiang -Huai dialects. In 1421 the Ming political and administrative capital was moved from" [2]
  7. ^ 何大安 (2002). 第三屆國際漢學會議論文集: 語言組. 南北是非 : 漢語方言的差異與變化. Volume 7 of 第三屆國際漢學會議論文集: 語言組. Zhong yang yan jiu yuan di san jie guo ji han xue hui yi lun wen ji. Yu yan zu. 中央硏究院語言學硏究所. p. 27. ISBN 9576719364. Retrieved 23 September 2011. "to consider how it may have been influenced by possible relationships and interactions with the Jiang-Huai dialects of the Nanking area. This, in our view , should be done by first undertaking historical studies of these dialects"  (the University of California)
  8. ^ 何大安 (2002). 第三屆國際漢學會議論文集: 語言組. 南北是非 : 漢語方言的差異與變化. Volume 7 of 第三屆國際漢學會議論文集: 語言組. Zhong yang yan jiu yuan di san jie guo ji han xue hui yi lun wen ji. Yu yan zu. 中央硏究院語言學硏究所. p. 27. ISBN 9576719364. Retrieved 23 September 2011. "Reading system definitely possesses features which are not typical of the Jiang-Huai group as a whole (Coblin Ms. 1,3)/ Careful reading of early descriptions tends to confirm this conclusion. For example, Varo's association of his Mandarin phonology with Nankingese was not absolute and unequivocal. We should recall his counsel that Guanhua be learned from "natives of the Province of Nan king, and of other provinces where the Mandarin tongue is spoken well" [emphasis added]. We find a similar view in Morrison's accounts. On the one hand he says in his dictionary (1815:xviii), "The pronunciation in this work, is rather what the Chinese call the Nanking dialect, than the Peking."  (the University of California)
  9. ^ Maria Kurpaska (2010). Chinese language(s): a look through the prism of The great dictionary of modern Chinese dialects. Volume 215 of Trends in linguistics: Studies and monographs (illustrated ed.). Walter de Gruyter. p. 161. ISBN 311021914X. Retrieved 23 September 2011. 

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