Shanghainese

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.[1]

Shanghainese
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]
Native toChina
RegionCity of Shanghai and surrounding Yangtze River Delta
EthnicityShanghainese
Native speakers
14 million (2013)
Sino-Tibetan
Language codes
ISO 639-3
ISO 639-6suji
wuu-sha
Glottologshan1293  Shanghainese
Linguasphere79-AAA-dbb >
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Shanghainese
Traditional Chinese上海話
Simplified Chinese上海话
Shanghainese
Romanization
Zaon6 he5 gho6
[zɑ̃̀hɛ́ɦò]
Literal meaningShanghai language
Shanghainese
Traditional Chinese上海閒話
Simplified Chinese上海闲话
Shanghainese
Romanization
Zaon6 he5 ghe6 gho6
[zɑ̃̀hɛ́ ɦɛ̀ɦò]
Literal meaningShanghai speech
Hu language
Traditional Chinese滬語
Simplified Chinese沪语
Shanghainese
Romanization
Wu6 gniu6
[ɦùȵỳ]
Literal meaningHu (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.[2]

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.


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