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平話 / 平话
Pinghua written in Chinese characters
Native toChina, Vietnam
EthnicityHan, Zhuang, San Chay
Native speakers
7+ million (2016)[1]
  • Northern Pinghua
  • Southern Pinghua
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
csp – Southern
cnp – Northern
Glottologping1245  Northern and Southern
Idioma ping.png
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese平話
Simplified Chinese平话
Cantonese YalePìhng Wá
Hanyu PinyinPínghuà
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese廣西平話
Simplified Chinese广西平话
Cantonese YaleGwóngsāi Pìhng Wá
Hanyu PinyinGuǎngxī Pínghuà
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Pinghua [2] is a pair of Sinitic languages spoken mainly in parts of the Guangxi, with some speakers in Hunan. Pinghua is a trade language in some areas of Guangxi, where it is spoken as a second language by speakers of Zhuang languages. Some speakers are officially classified as Zhuang, and many are genetically distinct from most other Han Chinese.[3] The northern subgroup is centered on Guilin and the southern subgroup around Nanning. The Southern dialect has several notable features such as having four distinct checked tones, and using various loanwords from the Zhuang languages, such as the final particle wei for imperative sentences.

History and classification[edit]

Language surveys in Guangxi during the 1950s recorded varieties of Chinese that had been included in the Yue dialect group but were different from those in Guangdong. Pinghua was designated as a separate dialect group from Yue by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in the 1980s[4]: 15  and since then has been treated as a separate dialect in textbooks and surveys.[5]

Since designation as a separate dialect group, Pinghua has been the focus of increased research. In 2008 a report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences of research into Chinese varieties noted an increase in research papers and surveys of Pinghua, from 7 before the 1987 publication of the Language Atlas of China based on the revised classification, and about 156 between then and 2004.[6]

In the 1980s the number of speakers was listed as over 2 million;[4]: 21  and by 2016 as 7 million.[7]

Pinghua is divided into two mutually unintelligible languages:[8]

  • The Northern Pinghua (Guìběi 桂北平话) is spoken in northern Guangxi, around the city of Guilin, in close proximity with Southwest Mandarin dialects.
  • The Southern Pinghua (Guìnán 桂南平话) is spoken in southern Guangxi, around the city of Nanning. These varieties form a dialect continuum with Yue varieties spoken in that part of Guangxi (excluding enclaves of Cantonese, such as in Nanning).[9] Yu Jin subdivides this group into three types:[10]


Nanning Pinghua has a voiceless lateral fricative [ɬ] for Middle Chinese /s/ or /z/, for example in the numbers /ɬam/ "three" and /ɬi/ "four".[11][12] This is unlike Standard Cantonese but like some other Yue varieties such as Taishanese.


Southern Pinghua has six contrasting tones in open syllables, and four in checked syllables,[13] as found in neighbouring Yue varieties such as the Bobai dialect.

Tones of Nanning Pinghua
Tone name Level
52 [˥˨] 33 [˧] 55 [˥] 5 [˥]
3 [˧]
21 [˨˩] 24 [˨˦] 22 [˨] 23 [˨˧]
2 [˨]

The split of the lower entering tone is determined by the initial consonant, with the low rising contour occurring after sonorant initials.[14]


Genetically, Pinghua speakers have more in common with non-Han ethnic minorities in southern China than with other Han groups.[3]


  1. ^ Chappell, Hilary; Li, Lan (2016). "Mandarin and Other Sinitic Languages". In Chan, Sin-Wai (ed.). The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Chinese Language. Oxon: Routledge. pp. 605–628. ISBN 978-1-317-38249-2.
  2. ^ (simplified Chinese: 平话; traditional Chinese: 平話; pinyin: Pínghuà; Yale: Pìhng Wá; sometimes disambiguated as Chinese: 廣西平話/广西平话)
  3. ^ a b Gan, Rui-Jing; Pan, Shang-Ling; Mustavich, Laura F.; et al. (2008). "Pinghua Population as an Exception of Han Chinese's Coherent Genetic Structure". Journal of Human Genetics. 53 (4): 303–313. doi:10.1007/s10038-008-0250-x. PMID 18270655.
  4. ^ a b Hsing, Fu-I 邢福义 (1991). Xiàndài Hànyǔ 现代汉语 [Modern Chinese] (in Chinese). Beijing: Gaodeng jiaoyu chubanshe. ISBN 7-04-002652-X.
  5. ^ Kurpaska, Maria (2010). Chinese Language(s): A Look Through the Prism of "The Great Dictionary of Modern Chinese Dialects". Walter de Gruyter. pp. 55–56, 76. ISBN 978-3-11-021914-2.
  6. ^ "[cass report by 王宏宇]" (in Simplified Chinese).{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link) April 2008
  7. ^ Yu, Jin 余瑾 (2016). Guǎngxī Pínghuà yánjiū 广西平话研究 (in Chinese). Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe. p. 24. ISBN 978-7-5161-8896-5.
  8. ^ Chappell, Hilary; Li, Lan (2016). "Mandarin and Other Sinitic Languages". In Chan, Sin-Wai (ed.). The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Chinese Language. Oxon: Routledge. p. 624. ISBN 978-1-317-38249-2.
  9. ^ de Sousa, Hilário (2016). "Language contact in Nanning: Nanning Pinghua and Nanning Cantonese". In Chappell, Hilary M. (ed.). Diversity in Sinitic Languages. Oxford University Press. pp. 157–189. ISBN 978-0-19-872379-0. p. 162.
  10. ^ de Sousa (2016), p. 160.
  11. ^ Yan, Margaret Mian (2006). Introduction to Chinese Dialectology. LINCOM Europa. p. 204. ISBN 978-3-89586-629-6.
  12. ^ "Learn a language the most natural way - Glossika". Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  13. ^ Tan, Yuanxiong 覃远雄; Wei, Shuguan 韦树关; Bian, Chenglin 卞成林 (1997). Nánníng Pínghuà cídiǎn 南宁平话词典 [Nanning Pinghua Dictionary]. Nanning: Jiangsu jiaoyu chubanshe. p. 6. ISBN 978-7-5343-3119-0. (part of the Great Dictionary of Modern Chinese Dialects, edited by Li Rong)
  14. ^ Lee, Gina (1993). Comparative, Diachronic and Experimental Perspectives on the Interaction Between Tone and the Vowel in Standard Cantonese (PDF) (Ph.D. thesis). Ohio State University. pp. 75–76.

Further reading[edit]

  • Xie Jianyou [谢建猷], et al. 2007. Studies on the Han Chinese dialects of Guangxi [广西汉语方言研究]. Nanning: Guangxi People's Publishing House [广西人民出版社].
  • 《广西通志·汉语方言志》(续编)课题组 (2013). 广西通志·汉语方言志:续编.第二篇,平话. Nanning: 广西人民出版社.
  • 《广西通志·汉语方言志》(续编)课题组 (2013). 广西通志·汉语方言志:续编.第五篇,桂北土话. Nanning: 广西人民出版社.
  • Sousa, Hilário de (2017). "Pínghuà 平話 Dialects" (PDF). In Sybesma, Rint; Behr, Wolfgang; Gu, Yueguo; Handel, Zev; Huang, C.-T. James; Myers, James (eds.). Encyclopedia of Chinese language and linguistics. Vol. 3. Leiden: Brill. pp. 425–431. doi:10.1163/2210-7363_ecll_COM_00000332. ISBN 978-90-04-18643-9.
  • Sousa, Hilário de (2015). "The Far Southern Sinitic languages as part of Mainland Southeast Asia" (PDF). In Enfield, N.J.; Comrie, Bernard (eds.). Languages of Mainland Southeast Asia: The state of the art. Pacific Linguistics. Vol. 649. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 356–439. doi:10.1515/9781501501685-009. ISBN 978-1-5015-0169-2.

External links[edit]