Long-short (romanization)

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The long-short romanization system (Chinese: 长短音; pinyin: Chángduǎn yīn) is a romanization system for northern Wu dialects, particularly the Shanghai dialect and the Suzhou dialect. The system is called "Long-short" because the system distinguishes between long vowels, which are written with two vowels, and short vowels, which are written with one. In some dialects, the short vowels are pronounced with a following glottal stop, making the distinction between short and long vowels more important.

A distinctive characteristic of Wu dialects is their retention of the Middle Chinese "muddy voice" initials, so that Wu is one of the few Chinese dialect groups with a three-way distinction between voiced, voiceless and aspirated consonants. Because other Chinese varieties such as Mandarin and Cantonese distinguish only between unaspirated and aspirated initials, romanization systems used for those dialects use the convention of writing, for example, the unaspirated [p] as "b" and the aspirated [pʰ] as "p". However this format is insufficient for the thrree-way distinction preserved by Wu, so the long-short romanization uses an "h" to show aspiration (so that [pʰ] is written "ph").

Initials and Finals[edit]

In Wu Chinese, like in other varieties of Chinese, all syllables are divided into initials (an initial consonant) and finals (the vowel, glide and syllable coda), as well as having an inherent tone.

Initials[edit]

See also:

  Labial Dental Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m
m
n
n
ɲ
gn
ŋ
ng
 
Plosive voiceless p
p
t
t
k
k
ʔ
*
aspirated
ph

th

kh
 
slack voice
b

d
ɡ̊
g
 
Affricate voiceless ts
tz

c
aspirated tsʰ
ts
tɕʰ
ch
 
slack voice (d̥z̥)
dz
d̥ʑ̊
dj
 
Fricative voiceless f
f
s
s
ɕ
x
  h
h
slack voice
v

z
ʑ̊
j
   
Approximant l
l
ɦ
r


* /ʔɲ/ is written "kn", /ʔn/, /ʔm/ and /ʔl/ are written with a preceding apostrophe (such as ’n) and is not written if it is the only initial consonant. ’um, ’un and ’ung are used for /ʔn̩/, /ʔm̩/ and /ʔŋ̩/ respectively.

/ɦj/ and /ɦɥ/ are both written as "y" and /ɦw/ is written as "w". /j/, /ɥ/ and /w/ are otherwise considered as part of the final.

The consonants s, z, tz and ts become alveolo-palatal in the Shanghai dialect when they are written before "i". They always remain dental in the Suzhou dialect.

Finals[edit]

See also:

Long vowels[edit]

Dialect a e o i ei oe ii iu/ü eu au/oo ou u
Shanghai aː ~ ɑː eː ~ ɛː ɔː eː ~ ej ɜəː øː uː/oː
Suzhou ɒː æː ɘɪ ɵː ɜu ~ uː
Dialect ia ie io iee iei ioe ieu
Shanghai jaː jeː ~ jɛː jɔː jeː ~ jej jɜəː ʏː
Suzhou jɒː jɪː jæː jɪː jɪː ɘɪ jɵː
Dialect ua ue uei ueu
Shanghai waː weː ~ wɛː weː ~ wej wøː ~ wɛː
Suzhou wɒː weː weː ɵː

Short Vowels[edit]

Vowels with
following glottal stops
Vowels with
following nasals
Dialect å/aq aq eq oq ån/ahn an en on
Shanghai ɐ ɐ ə o/ʊ ãː ãː əɲ oŋ ~ ʊŋ
Suzhou ɒ a ə o ãː ~ ɒŋ ãː/aŋ ən
Dialect iå ~ iaq iaq ieq ioq iån ~ iahn ian in ion
Shanghai jo ~ jʊ jãː jãː ɪɲ joŋ ~ jʊŋ
Suzhou ɪ ~ jə jo jãː ~ jɒŋ jãː ~ jaŋ jɪn joŋ
Dialect uaq ueq üeq uån/uahn uan uen ün
Shanghai ɥɪ wãː wãː wəɲ ʏɲ
Suzhou wa ɥə wãː ~ wɒŋ wãː ~ waŋ wɪn ɥin

Syllabic consonants[edit]

Northern Wu has seven syllabic consonants, three of which are glottalized.

Unglottalized Glottalized
Dialect um un ung ul `um `un `ung
Shanghai ŋ̩ r̩/əɫ ʔm̩ ʔn̩ ʔŋ̩
Suzhou ŋ̩ əɹ ʔm̩ ʔn̩ ʔŋ̩

Null Finals[edit]

Similar to other Chinese dialects, Wu features "null finals", which occurs after non-palatal fricatives, and are pronounced like syllabic consonants.

Dialect zi zu si su tsi tsu tshi tshu
Shanghai zɿ/dzɿ sɿ tsɿ tsʰɿ
Suzhou zɿ sɿ tsɿ tsɥ tsʰɿ tsʰɥ

Tones[edit]

The Shanghai dialect has five tones, while the Suzhou dialect has mostly retained the Middle Chinese tone system, except that it now only has one Shang tone, with the other merging with the Yin Qu tone.