The Shanghainese language, also known as the Shanghai dialect, or Hu language, is a variety of Wu Chinese spoken in the central districts of the City of Shanghai and its surrounding areas. It is classified as part of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Shanghainese, like the rest of the Wu language group, is mutually unintelligible with other varieties of Chinese, such as Mandarin.
|上海話 / 上海话, Zaon6 he5 gho6|
上海閒話 / 上海闲话, Zaon6 he5 ghe6 gho6
滬語 / 沪语, Wu6 gniu6
|Pronunciation||[zɑ̃̀hɛ́ ɦɛ̀ɦò], [ɦùȵỳ]|
|Region||City of Shanghai and surrounding Yangtze River Delta|
|14 million (2013)|
|Zaon6 he5 gho6|
|Literal meaning||Shanghai language|
|Zaon6 he5 ghe6 gho6|
|Literal meaning||Shanghai speech|
|Literal meaning||Hu (Shanghai) language|
Shanghainese belongs to the Taihu Wu subgroup and contains vocabulary and expressions from the entire Taihu Wu area of southern Jiangsu and northern Zhejiang. With nearly 14 million speakers, Shanghainese is also the largest single form of Wu Chinese. Since the late 19th century it has served as the lingua franca of the entire Yangtze River Delta region, but in recent decades its status has declined relative to Mandarin, which most Shanghainese speakers can also speak.
Shanghainese is rich in vowels [i y ɪ ʏ e ø ɛ ə ɐ a ɑ ɔ ɤ o ʊ u] (twelve of which are phonemic) and in consonants. Like other Taihu Wu dialects, Shanghainese has voiced initials [b d ɡ ɦ z v dʑ ʑ]: neither Cantonese nor Mandarin has voiced initial stops or affricates. The Shanghainese tonal system is also significantly different from other Chinese languages, sharing more similarities with the Japanese pitch accent, with two level tonal contrasts (high and low), whereas Cantonese and Mandarin are typical of contour tonal languages.