|Native to||People's Republic of China|
|Region||Suzhou, Jiangsu province; also in Shanghai
Overseas, in the United States (New York City)
|Native speakers||approx. 5-7 million (date missing)|
The Suzhou dialect or Suzhounese (Soochowese; simplified Chinese: 苏州话; traditional Chinese: 蘇州話; pinyin: Sūzhōuhuà; Suzhounese: 蘇州閒話, IPA: [səu55ʦøʏ55-21ɦᴇ13ɦo31-33]) is a branch of the Wu languages, one of the subdivisions of spoken Chinese. Suzhounese is spoken in the city of Suzhou in China's Jiangsu province and is the traditional prestige dialect of Wu.
It is typical of the Wu dialects, being rich in vowels and conservative in having many initials. It has many similarities with Shanghainese.
Considered one of the most flowing and elegant languages of China, often called effeminate, especially by the Shanghainese, the Suzhou dialect is mutually intelligible with dialects spoken in neighbouring Shanghai, and the dialects spoken its satellite cities of Kunshan, Changshu, Zhangjiagang etc. It has noticeable differences with Wuxi dialect, although this does not render the two dialects unintelligible to each other. It is also partially intelligible with dialects spoken in Hangzhou and Ningbo. Neither native Mandarin nor Cantonese speakers understand Suzhou dialect.
Due to the city's population flow patterns, many Suzhou-area residents native to the city do not speak Suzhou dialect, but can usually understand it, although the level of fluency varies. Standard Mandarin, therefore, is spoken throughout the city.
Suzhou is also spoken in Shanghai, and an increasing number of Suzhou speakers is emerging in New York City in the United States.
A "ballad-narrative" (說晿詞話) known as "The story of Xue Rengui crossing the sea and Pacifying Liao" (薛仁貴跨海征遼故事), which is about the Tang dynasty hero Xue Rengui is believed to been written in the Suzhou dialect.
Third and second person pronouns are affixed with [to?] as a suffix in Suzhou dialect.
Some non native speakers of Suzhou dialect speak Suzhou dialect in a "stylized variety" to tell tales.
Suzhou dialect has a set of voiced initials and exhibits unvoiced unaspirated and aspirated stops, there are unvoiced and voiced fricatives sets. Moreover, palatized initials also feature.
|m, n, ŋ, l|
|i||iø, io, iæᵄ, iɒ||iøʏ||in, ioŋ, iã, iɒ̃||ɪʔ(iəʔ), ioʔ, iaʔ, iɒʔ|
|u||uø, uɛ, uɒ||uən, uɒ̃, uã||uɤʔ, uaʔ|
Suzhou has one triphthong rhyme, [iøʏ]. Unlike Shanghai, it has no nasalised rhymes, though it does have a set of rhymes that end in a nasal stop. Middle Chinese entering tone characters which end in [p t k] end as a glottal stop [ʔ] in Suzhou. Middle Chinese nasal endings [m] have merged with rhymes that end with [n] in Suzhou. Middle Chinese [ŋ] ending rhymes have split into two types in Suzhou. Those with a high-fronted main vowel merge with [n] ending rhymes. Those with a palatising medial [i] and back main vowel retain the [ŋ] ending.
Suzhou is considered to have seven tones. However, since the tone split dating from Middle Chinese still depends on the voicing of the initial consonant, these constitute just three phonemic tones: ping, shang, and qu. (Ru syllables are phonemically toneless.)
|Tone number||Tone name||Tone letters||Description|
|1||yin ping (陰平)||˦ (44)||high|
|2||yang ping (陽平)||˨˨˦ (224)||level-rising|
|3||shang (上)||˥˨ (52)||high falling|
|4||yin qu (陰去)||˦˩˨ (412)||dipping|
|5||yang qu (陽去)||˨˧˩ (231)||rising-falling|
|6||yin ru (陰入)||˦ʔ (4)||high checked|
|7||yang ru (陽入)||˨˧ʔ (23)||rising checked|
In Suzhou, the Middle Chinese Shang tone has partially merged with the modern yin qu tone.
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- Remco E. Breuker, ed. (2007). Korea in the middle: Korean studies and area studies : essays in honour of Boudewijn Walraven. Volume 153 of CNWS publications (illustrated ed.). CNWS Publications. p. 341. ISBN 9057891530. Retrieved 2012-03-10. "A prosimetrical rendition, entitled Xue Rengui kuahai zheng Liao gushi 薛仁貴跨海征遼故事 (The story of Xue Rengui crossing the sea and Pacifying Liao), which shares its opening prose paragraph with the Xue Rengui zheng Liao shilüe, is preserved in a printing of 1471; it is one of the shuochang cihua 說晿詞話 (ballad-narratives"
- Remco E. Breuker, ed. (2007). Korea in the middle: Korean studies and area studies : essays in honour of Boudewijn Walraven. Volume 153 of CNWS publications (illustrated ed.). CNWS Publications. p. 342. ISBN 9057891530. Retrieved 2012-03-10. "for telling and singing) which were discovered in the suburbs of Shanghai in 1967.3 While these shuochang cihua had been printed in modern-day Beijing, their language suggests that they had been composed in the Wu-dialect area of Suzhou and surroundings,"
- Graham Thurgood, Randy J. LaPolla, ed. (2003). The Sino-Tibetan languages. Volume 3 of Routledge language family series (illustrated ed.). Psychology Press. p. 86. ISBN 0700711295. Retrieved 2012-03-10. "Note that the plural marker may differ for first vs second vs third persons, especially in the Wu dialects: the Suzhou dialect of Jiangsu sues the suffix [to?] for the second and the third persons, but a contraction form of [ni] for the first person, Shanghai uses the suffix 伲 for the first person, the suffix [lA53>44] for the third person, but a contraction form [nʌ 23] for the second person, the Hǎiyán dialect of Zhejiang uses the suffix [la] for the first and third person but a contraction form [na] for the second person, for example."
- Language, Volume 76, Issues 1-2. Linguistic Society of America. 2000. p. 160. Retrieved 2012-03-10. "She also examines a stylized variety of Suzhou Wu as used to tell stories by native speakers of another dialect."
|author=(help)(Original from the University of Michigan)(Digitized Dec 17, 2010)