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|Region||Zigong, Fushun, Weiyuan and their neighboring areas|
|3.5 million (date missing)|
Zigong dialect in China
Zigong dialect (simplified Chinese: 自贡话; traditional Chinese: 自貢話; pinyin: Zìgòng huà; Wade–Giles: Tzu-kung hua) is a branch of Southwestern Mandarin, spoken mainly in Zigong, Fushun, Weiyuan, east Rongxian and some parts of Yibin, Neijiang, Longchang and other neighboring areas.
At least four Chinese dialects are spoken in Zigong City: Zigong dialect, Rongxian dialect, Hakka and Minjiang dialect. A majority of people in Zigong speak Zigong dialect. However, most people in Rongxian, a county of Zigong City, speak Rongxian dialect, whose pronunciation is quite different from that of Zigong dialect. Besides, owing to a great number of Hakka immigrants in history, a small number of Hakka people in certain towns also remain to speak Hakka. Also, Minjiang dialect is spoken in a few remote towns or villages bordering to Luzhou, Leshan and Yibin.
Zigong dialect differs from other branches of Sichuanese Mandarin. Modern Zigong dialect was formed rather recently in a great wave of immigration after the Qing Dynasty. Immigrants played a crucial role in the formation of the new Zigong dialect. Zigong has long been known as the "Salt Capital" for its brine extraction techniques and the attendant salt-related culture. In ancient China, salt was regarded as the energy for body and valued even more highly than gold. Therefore, salt trading was always the most profitable business and salt merchants were the wealthiest people. Hence many merchants, mainly from Hubei, Henan, Jiangxi, Fujian, Shaanxi, Shanxi and Guangdong, flooded into Zigong, bringing their Chinese varieties with them.
There are four phonemic tones in Zigong dialect: dark level tone, light level tone, rising tone and departing tone. The ancient checked tone of Chinese has been redistributed entirely into departing tone.
There are 38 finals in the Zigong dialect.