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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
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.
* /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 /ʔm̩/, /ʔn̩/ 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.
|Suzhou||ɑː||ɛː||æː||ɪː||ɛː||øʏ||iː||yː||ɵː||ʊː||oʊ ~ β̩/v̩|
following glottal stops
Northern Wu has seven syllabic consonants, three of which are glottalized.
Similar to other Chinese dialects, Wu features "null finals", which occurs after non-palatal fricatives, and are pronounced like syllabic consonants.
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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.