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Changsha dialect

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Changsha dialect

Changsha dialect
Native to China
Region Changsha, Hunan province
Native speakers
6 million  (date missing)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Linguist list

Changsha dialect (simplified Chinese: 长沙话; traditional Chinese: 長沙話; pinyin: Chángshā-huà) is a dialect of Xiang Chinese, which is one of the Sinitic languages. It is spoken predominantly in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province. It is not mutually intelligible with Mandarin, the official language of China.


Changsha dialect is what Chinese dialectologists would call a New Xiang language, as opposed to an Old Xiang language. The distinction is mainly based on the presence of the Middle Chinese voiced plosives and affricates. The Old Xiang languages, being more conservative, have in general kept them while the New Xiang languages have altogether lost them and changed them to voiceless unaspirated consonants.

Geographic distribution

Changsha dialect is spoken in the city of Changsha and its neighbouring suburbs. However, there are some slight differences between the urban and suburban speech. For instance, the retroflex set is only heard in the suburbs, but not in the city and some words have a different rime in the two varieties.


There are no substantial differences between dialects in the neighbourhood of Changsha; however, age dialects do exist. For example, the distinction between alveolar and alveolo-palatal consonants is only made by the elderly while the younger generations do not normally distinguish them. The rimes [-oŋ] and [-ioŋ] have become [-ən] and [-in] in the younger speech. Also, the initial consonant [ɲ] in the elderly's and middled-aged's speech is either dropped altogether or changed to [l].

Phonetics and Phonology

The Changsha dialect, together with other New Xiang languages, has lost the Middle Chinese obstruents, which are changed to voiceless unaspirated consonants in the language. It has also lost all the final plosives found in the tone in Middle Chinese.


Consonants of the Changsha dialect
  bilabial labio-dental alveolar alveolo-palatal retroflex velar
nasal m   n ɲ   ŋ
plosives voiceless unaspirated p   t     k
voiceless aspirated      
fricatives voiced         ʐ  
voiceless   f s ɕ ʂ x
affricates voiceless unaspirated     ts  
voiceless aspirated     tsʰ tɕʰ tʂʰ  
lateral approximants     l    



Changsha has 5 tones, which are neutralized in syllables ending in a stop.

Tone chart of the Changsha dialect
Tone number Tone name Tone contour Description
1 yin ping (陰平) ˧ (3) or ā mid
2 yang ping (陽平) ˩˧ (13) or ǎ rising
3 shang sheng (上聲) ˦˩ (41) or â falling
4 yin qu (陰去) ˥ (5) or á high
5 yang qu (陽去) ˨˩ (21) or à low
6 ru sheng (入聲) ˨˦ʔ (24′) or checked

See also


  • Běijīng dàxué zhōngguóyǔyánwénxuéxì yǔyánxué jiàoyánshì. (1989) Hànyǔ fāngyīn zìhuì. Běijīng: Wénzìgǎigé chūbǎnshè.(北京大學中國語言文學系語言學教研室. 1989. 漢語方音字匯. 北京: 文字改革出版社)
  • Norman, Jerry. [1988] (2002). Chinese. Cambridge, England: CUP ISBN 0-521-29653-6
  • Wu, Yunji. (2005). A Synchronic and diachronic study of the grammar of the Chinese Xiang dialects. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-018366-8
  • Yuán, jiāhuá (1989). Hànyǔ fāngyán gàiyào (An introduction to Chinese regional speech varieties). Beijing, China: Wénzì gǎigé chūbǎnshè. (袁家驊. 1989. 漢語方言概要. 北京:文字改革出版社.)

External links

  • Cantonese and other dialects (in Chinese)
  • Classification of Xiang Dialects from Glossika

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