Jian'ou dialect

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Gṳ̿ing-é-dī / 建甌事
Pronunciation[kuiŋ˧ ɪ˥˦ ti˦]
Native toSouthern China
RegionJian'ou, Fujian province
Early forms
Chinese character, Kienning Colloquial Romanized
Language codes
ISO 639-3
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Jian'ou dialect
Traditional Chinese建甌話
Simplified Chinese建瓯话
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese建甌事
Simplified Chinese建瓯事
Bible in Jian'ou Romanised (Genesis), published by the British and Foreign Bible Society.

The Jian'ou dialect (Northern Min: Gṳ̿ing-é-dī / 建甌事; Chinese: simplified Chinese: 建瓯话; traditional Chinese: 建甌話; pinyin: Jiàn'ōuhuà), also known as Kienow dialect, is a local dialect of Northern Min Chinese spoken in Jian'ou in northern Fujian province. It is regarded as the standard common language in Jian'ou.

Phonetics and phonology[edit]

According to The Eight Tones of Kien-chou (建州八音), a rime dictionary published in 1795, the Jian'ou dialect had 15 initials, 34 rimes and 7 tones in the 18th century, however there are only 6 tones in the modern dialect as the "light level" (陽平) tone has disappeared.


Initials of the Jian'ou dialect
  Bilabial Alveolar Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ  
Plosive voiceless unaspirated p t k ʔ
voiceless aspirated  
Affricate voiceless unaspirated   ts    
voiceless aspirated   tsʰ    
Fricative   s x  
Approximant   l    


Rimes of the Jian'ou dialect
Open syllable Nasal coda
Open mouth a e[4] ɛ œ ɔ o[5] ai au aiŋ eiŋ œyŋ ɔŋ [6]
Even mouth i ia iau iu iaŋ ieiŋ[7] iɔŋ
Closed mouth u ua [8] uai uiŋ [9] uaŋ uaiŋ uɔŋ
Round mouth y [8] yiŋ [9]


Jian'ou has four tones, which are reduced to two in checked syllables.

Tone chart of the Jian'ou dialect
Tone number Tone name Tone contour
1 level (平聲) ˥˦ (54) or ˥ (5)
2 rising (上聲) ˨˩ (21) or ˩ (1)
3 dark departing (陰去) ˨ (2)
4 light departing (陽去) ˦ (4)
5 dark entering (陰入) ˨˦ (24)
6 light entering (陽入) ˦˨ (42)

The entering tones in the Jian'ou dialect do not have any entering tone coda (入聲韻尾) such as /-ʔ/, /-p̚/, /-t̚/ and /-k̚/ which makes it distinct from many other Chinese varieties.


  1. ^ Min is believed to have split from Old Chinese, rather than Middle Chinese like other varieties of Chinese.[1][2][3]


  1. ^ Mei, Tsu-lin (1970), "Tones and prosody in Middle Chinese and the origin of the rising tone", Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 30: 86–110, doi:10.2307/2718766, JSTOR 2718766
  2. ^ Pulleyblank, Edwin G. (1984), Middle Chinese: A study in Historical Phonology, Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, p. 3, ISBN 978-0-7748-0192-8
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian (2023-07-10). "Glottolog 4.8 - Min". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. doi:10.5281/zenodo.7398962. Archived from the original on 2023-10-13. Retrieved 2023-10-13.
  4. ^ /e/ tends to merge to [ɪ]
  5. ^ /o/ tends to merge to [ʊ]
  6. ^ /oŋ/ which is mentioned in Kienning Colloquial Romanized has merged into /ɔŋ/ in the modern dialect.
  7. ^ /ieiŋ/ is not mentioned in Kienning Colloquial Romanized as it diverged from /iŋ/ after the romanization system was established.
  8. ^ a b /yɛ/ tends to merge into /uɛ/.
  9. ^ a b /yiŋ/ tends to merge into /uiŋ/.


  • Beijing daxue Zhongguo yuyan wenxue xi yuyanxue jiaoyanshi 北京大學中國語言文學系語言學教研室 (1989). Hànyǔ fāngyīn zìhuì 漢語方音字匯 (in Chinese). Beijing: Wenzi gaige chubanshe.
  • Yuan, Jiahua 袁家驊 (1989). Hànyǔ fāngyán gàiyào 漢語方言概要 [An Introduction to Chinese Dialects] (in Chinese). Beijing: Wenzi gaige chubanshe.
  • Jianou Xian difangzhi bianzuan weiyuanhui 建瓯县地方志编纂委员会 (1994). Jiànōu xiànzhì 建瓯县志 [Chorography of Jian'ou County]. Vol. 36. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju. ISBN 7-101-01283-3. Archived from the original on 2018-04-07. Retrieved 2018-04-06.
  • Lien, Chinfa (1990). "Competing Final Systems in the Jian'ou Dialect" (PDF). Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies. 20 (1): 1–53.
  • Norman, Jerry (2002) [1988]. Chinese. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-29653-6.

External links[edit]