Huizhou Chinese () or Hui dialect (), is a group of closely related Sinitic languages spoken over a small area in and around the historical region of Huizhou (for which it is named), in about ten or so mountainous counties in southern Anhui, plus a few more in neighbouring Zhejiang and Jiangxi. Although the Hui area is small compared with other Chinese dialect groups, it displays a very high degree of internal variation. Nearly every county has its own distinct dialect unintelligible to a speaker from a few counties away. For this reason, bilingualism and multilingualism are common among speakers of Hui. It is estimated that there are around 4.6 million speakers of Huizhou varieties.


Huizhou Chinese was originally classified as Lower Yangtze Mandarin but it is currently classified separately from it. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences supported the separation of Huizhou from Lower Yangtze Mandarin in 1987. Its classification is disputed, with some linguists such as Matisoff classifying it as Wu Chinese, others such as Bradley (2007) as Gan, and still others setting it apart as a primary branch of Chinese.


In the Ming and Qing dynasties Jianghuai speakers moved into Hui dialect areas. Some works of literature produced in Yangzhou, such as ''Qingfengzha'', a novel, contain Jianghuai Mandarin. People in Yangzhou identified by the dialect they speak, locals spoke the dialect, as opposed to sojourners, who spoke other varieties like Huizhou or Wu. This led to the formation of identity based on dialect. Large numbers of merchants from Huizhou lived in Yangzhou and effectively were responsible for keeping the town afloat. Merchants in the later imperial period also sponsored operas and performances in the Hui dialect.

Languages and dialects

Zhengzhang Shangfang divided the Hui languages into five subgroups, which are also used in the ''Language Atlas of China'': ;Ji–She :spoken in Jixi, She County, Huizhou, Jingde, and Ningguo, Anhui province, as well as Chun'an, Zhejiang province ;Xiu–Yi :spoken in Tunxi, Taiping, Xiuning, Yi County, and Qimen, as well as Wuyuan, Jiangxi province ;Qi–De :spoken in Qimen and Dongzhi, Anhui province, as well as Fuliang, Dexing, and Wuyuan, Jiangxi province ;Yanzhou :spoken in Chun'an and Jiande (formerly Yanzhou Prefecture), Zhejiang province ;Jing–Zhan :spoken in Jingde, Qimen, Shitai, Yi County, and Ningguo, Anhui province Huizhou varieties differ from village to village. People in different villages (even in one county and township) often cannot speak with one other.


Phonologically speaking, Hui is noted for its massive loss of syllable codas, including -i, -u, and nasals: Many Hui dialects have diphthongs with a higher lengthened first part. For example, ("speech") is in Xiuning County (Standard Chinese ), ("yard") is in Xiuning County (Standard Chinese ); ("knot") is in Yi County (Standard Chinese ), ("agreement") is in Yi County (Standard Chinese ). A few areas take this to extremes. For example, Likou in Qimen County has for ("rice") (Standard Chinese ), with the appearing directly as a result of the lengthened, nasalized . Because nasal codas have mostly been lost, Hui reuses the ending as a diminutive. For example, in the Tunxi dialect, "rope" appears as from + .


External links

Classification of Hui Dialects
{{Chinese language Category:Varieties of Chinese Category:Languages of China Category:Anhui Category:Jiangxi Category:Zhejiang