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]

  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 /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.

Finals[edit]

See also:

Long vowels[edit]

Dialect aa ae au ee ei eu ii iu/ü oe oo ou
Shanghai eⁱ ɤᵚ øː ʊː ɯᵝː
Suzhou ɑː ɛː æː ɪː ɛː øʏ ɵː ʊː oʊ ~ β̩/v̩
Dialect iaa iae iau iee iei ieu ioe
Shanghai jaː jeː joː jeⁱ jɤᵚ jøː
Suzhou jɑː ɪː jæː ɪː ɪː ʏː jɵː
Dialect uaa uae uei uoe
Shanghai waː weː weⁱ wøː
Suzhou wɑː wɛː wɛː wɵː

Short Vowels[edit]

Vowels with
following glottal stops
Vowels with
following nasals
Dialect å/ah a e o ån/ahn an en on
Shanghai əʔ ãː ãː ən
Suzhou ɑʔ əʔ ɑ̃ː ãː ən
Dialect iå/iah ia ie io iån/iahn ian in ion
Shanghai jaʔ jaʔ joʔ jãː jãː joŋ
Suzhou jɑʔ jaʔ jəʔ joʔ jɑ̃ː jãː ɪn joŋ
Dialect ua ue üe uån/uahn uan uen ün
Shanghai waʔ wəʔ øʔ wãː wãː wən øɲ
Suzhou waʔ wəʔ ɥəʔ wɑ̃ː wãː wən ʏn

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 ɚ ʔm̩ ʔn̩ ʔŋ̩
Suzhou ŋ̩ 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 tsʮ tsʰɿ tsʰʮ

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.