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Pinghua Chinese

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Pinghua Chinese

Pinghua written in Chinese characters
Native to China
Region Guangxi
Native speakers
2.3 million  (date missing)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 None (mis)
ISO 639-6 (none)
Glottolog ping1244[1]
Traditional Chinese 平話
Simplified Chinese 平话
Hanyu Pinyin Píng Huà
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 廣西平話
Simplified Chinese 广西平话
Hanyu Pinyin Guǎngxī Píng Huà

Pinghua (simplified Chinese: 平话; traditional Chinese: 平話 Pínghuà, sometimes disambiguated as 廣西平話/广西平话 Guǎngxī Pínghuà) is a Chinese language spoken mainly in parts of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, with some speakers in Yunnan 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 the Han majority of Chinese speakers.[2] The northern subdialect of Pinghua is centered on Guilin and the southern subdialect around Nanning. Pinghua has several notable features such as having four distinct checked tones, and using various loanwords from Zhuang, such as the final particle "wei" for imperative sentences.

History and classification

Language surveys in Guangxi during the 1950s noted a variety of Chinese different from those in Guangdong that had been previously considered by default as a subdivision of Yue Chinese. Pinghua was designated as a separate dialect from Yue by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in the 1980s[3] and since then has been treated as a separate dialect in textbooks and surveys,[4] though it is not at present noted in Ethnologue.

Since designation as a separate dialect there has been increased research into Pinghua. In 2008 a report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences of research into Chinese dialects 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.[6]


Pinghua makes use of a voiceless el [ɬ],[7] for example in the numbers /ɬam/ "three" and /ɬi/ "four". This is unlike Standard Cantonese but like some other Yue dialects such as Taishanese.


Pinghua has 6 phonemic tones, reportedly reduced to 4 entering tones before stop consonants, and as with all Chinese dialects there is regional variation of pitch in these tones. The table below shows the tones for Nanning Pinghua.[8]

Tone name

52 or ˥˨ 33 or ˧˧ 55 or ˥˥ 5 or ˥

3 or ˧

21 or ˨˩ 24 or ˨˦ 22 or ˨˨ 23 or ˨˧

2 or ˨

However, Lee (1993)[9] concludes that the alleged split in 陰入 is a changed tone analogous to the diminutive in Cantonese, and that only 陽入 has a historical split. It depends on whether the initial consonant is a sonorant or obstruent, as in yang-tone splits in other Chinese dialects.


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


  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Pinghua". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  2. ^ a b Pinghua population as an exception of Han Chinese's coherent genetic structure
  3. ^ 现代汉语 "Modern Chinese" ISBN 7-04-002652-X page 15
  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 . 
  5. ^ cass report by 王宏宇 (in Chinese), April 2008
  6. ^ 现代汉语 "Modern Chinese" ISBN 7-04-002652-X page 21
  7. ^
  8. ^ 南寧平話詞典 Nanning Pinghua Dictionary ISBN 7-5343-3119-6 page 6
  9. ^ Gina Lee, 1993. Comparative, diachronic and experimental perspectives on the interaction between tone and the vowel in Standard Cantonese

Further reading

  • Xie Jianyou [谢建猷], et al. 2007. Studies on the Han Chinese dialects of Guangxi [广西汉语方言研究]. Nanning: Guangxi People's Publishing House [广西人民出版社].

External links

  • Classification of Pinghua Dialects
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