HOME

TheInfoList




Shanghainese, also known as the Shanghai language, Shanghai dialect, or Hu language, is a
Wu Chinese Wu (Chinese character: , , Mandarin: ) is a group of linguistically similar and historically related Sinitic languages spoken primarily in Shanghai Shanghai (, , Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ) is one of the four ...
language spoken in the central districts of the
City of Shanghai
City of Shanghai
and its surrounding areas. It is classified as part of the
Sino-Tibetan language family Sino-Tibetan, also known as Trans-Himalayan in a few sources, is a family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marriage or other relationsh ...

Sino-Tibetan language family
. Shanghainese, like the rest of the Wu language group, is
mutually unintelligible In linguistics, mutual intelligibility is a relationship between languages or dialects in which speakers of different but related Variety (linguistics), varieties can readily understand each other without prior familiarity or special effort. It is ...
with other
varieties of Chinese Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, w ...
, such as
Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and can compose the administration o ...
. Shanghainese belongs to the
Taihu Wu Taihu Wu () or Northern Wu () is a Wu Chinese language spoken over much of southern part of Jiangsu province, including Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou, the southern part of Nantong, Jingjiang and Danyang, Jiangsu, Danyang; the municipality of Shanghai; and ...
subgroup and contains vocabulary and expressions from the entire Taihu Wu area of southern
Jiangsu Jiangsu (; ; romanized Kiangsu) is an eastern-central coastal of the . It is one of the leading provinces in finance, education, technology, and tourism, with its capital in . Jiangsu is the , but the and the of the 23 provinces of the Peopl ...

Jiangsu
and northern
Zhejiang Zhejiang (, ; , Chinese postal romanization, also romanized as Chekiang) is an East China, eastern, coastal Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. Its capital and largest city is Hangzhou. Zhejiang is bordered ...

Zhejiang
. With nearly 14 million speakers, Shanghainese is also the largest single form of Wu Chinese. It serves as the
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a ...
of the entire
Yangtze River Delta The Yangtze Delta or Yangtze River Delta (YRD, or simply ) is a triangle-shaped megalopolis A megalopolis (), sometimes called a megapolis; also megaregion, city cluster or supercity, is a group of two or more roughly adjacent metropolitan a ...

Yangtze River Delta
region. Shanghainese is rich in
vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables * ...

vowel
s (twelve of which are
phonemic In phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or constituent parts of signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound or sign system of any partic ...
) and in consonants. Like other Taihu Wu dialects, Shanghainese has
voiced Voice or voicing is a term used in phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize i ...
initials In a written or published work, an initial or drop cap is a letter at the beginning of a word, a chapter Chapter or Chapters may refer to: Books * Chapter (books), a main division of a piece of writing or document * Chapter book, a story book i ...
: neither
Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t; Yale Yale University is a private Ivy League The Ivy League (also known as The Ancient Eight) is an American collegiate athletic conference comprising eight private research un ...
nor
Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and can compose the administration o ...
has voiced initial stops or
affricates An affricate is a consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pr ...
. The Shanghainese tonal system is also significantly different from other Chinese varieties, sharing more similarities with the
Japanese pitch accent Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an in . It is situated in the northwest , and is bordered on the west by the , while extending from the in the north toward the an ...
, with two level tonal contrasts (high and low), whereas Cantonese and Mandarin are typical of contour tonal languages.


History

Shanghai did not become a regional center of commerce until it was opened to foreign investment during the late
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty in the History of China#Imperial China, imperial history of China. It was established in 1636, and ruled China proper from 1644 to 1912, w ...
. Consequently, languages and dialects spoken around Shanghai had long been subordinate to those spoken around
Jiaxing Jiaxing (), alternately romanized as Kashing or Kiahsing, is a prefecture-level city in northern Zhejiang province, China. Lying on the Grand Canal of China, Jiaxing borders Hangzhou to the southwest, Huzhou to the west, Shanghai to the northeast ...

Jiaxing
and later
Suzhou Suzhou (; ; , Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and c ...
. In fact "speakers of other Wu dialects traditionally treat the Shanghai vernacular somewhat contemptuously as a mixture of Suzhou and Ningbo dialects." In the late 19th century, most vocabulary of the Shanghai area had been a hybrid between Southern Jiangsu and Ningbonese. Since the 1850s, owing to the growth of Shanghai's economy, Shanghainese has become one of the fastest-developing languages of the Wu Chinese subgroup, undergoing rapid changes and quickly replacing
Suzhounese The Suzhou dialect (; Suzhounese: ''Sou-tseu ghé-ghô'' ), also known as Suzhounese, is the Varieties of Chinese, variety of Chinese traditionally spoken in the city of Suzhou in Jiangsu, Jiangsu Province, China. Suzhounese is a variety of W ...
as the
prestige dialect In sociolinguistics Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural Norm (sociology), norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and society's effect on language. ...
of the
Yangtze River Delta The Yangtze Delta or Yangtze River Delta (YRD, or simply ) is a triangle-shaped megalopolis A megalopolis (), sometimes called a megapolis; also megaregion, city cluster or supercity, is a group of two or more roughly adjacent metropolitan a ...

Yangtze River Delta
region. It underwent sustained growth that reached a hiatus in the 1930s during the
Republican era
Republican era
, when migrants arrived in Shanghai and immersed themselves in the local tongue. After 1949, the new
People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population of more than 1.4 billio ...

People's Republic of China
government imposed Mandarin (Putonghua) as the official language of the whole nation of China. The dominance and influence of Shanghainese began to wane slightly. Since
Chinese economic reform The Chinese economic reform or reform and opening-up, known in the Western world, West as the opening of China, is the program of microeconomic reform, economic reforms termed "Socialism with Chinese characteristics" and "socialist market economy ...
began in 1978, especially, Shanghai became home to a great number of migrants from all over the country. Due to the national prominence of Mandarin, learning Shanghainese was no longer necessary for migrants, because those educated after the 1950s could generally communicate in Mandarin. However, Shanghainese remained a vital part of the city's culture and retained its prestige status within the local population. In the 1990s, it was still common for local radio and television broadcasts to be in Shanghainese. In 1995, the TV series '' Sinful Debt'' featured extensive Shanghainese dialogue; when it was broadcast outside Shanghai (mainly in adjacent Wu-speaking provinces)
Mandarin subtitles
Mandarin subtitles
were added. The Shanghainese TV series ''Lao Niang Jiu'' (Old Uncle) was broadcast from 1995 to 2007 and was popular among Shanghainese residents. Shanghainese programming has since slowly declined amid regionalist/localist accusations. From 1992 onward, Shanghainese use was discouraged in schools, and many children native to Shanghai can no longer speak Shanghainese. In addition, Shanghai's emergence as a cosmopolitan global city consolidated the status of Mandarin as the standard language of business and services, at the expense of the local language. Since 2005, new movements have emerged to protect Shanghainese from fading away. At municipal legislative discussions in 2005, former
Shanghai opera Shanghai opera (), formerly known as Shenqu (), is a variety of Chinese opera from Shanghai Shanghai (, , Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ) is one of the four Direct-administered municipalities of China, direct-admin ...

Shanghai opera
actress Ma Lili moved to "protect" the language, stating that she was one of the few remaining Shanghai opera actresses who still retained authentic classic Shanghainese pronunciation in their performances. Shanghai's former party boss
Chen Liangyu Chen Liangyu (; born October 24, 1946 in Shanghai) is a Chinese politician best known for his tenure as the Politics of Shanghai, Communist Party Secretary of Shanghai, the city's top office, and a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party ...
, a native Shanghainese himself, reportedly supported her proposal. There have been talks of re-integrating Shanghainese into pre-kindergarten education, because many children are unable to speak any Shanghainese. A citywide program was introduced by the city government's language committee in 2006 to record native speakers of different Shanghainese varieties for archival purposes and, by 2010, many Shanghainese-language programs were running. The Shanghai government has begun to reverse its course and seek fluent speakers of authentic Shanghainese, but only two out of thirteen recruitment stations have found traditional Shanghainese speakers; the rest of the 14 million people of Shanghai speak modern Shanghainese, and it has been predicted that local variants will be wiped out. Professor Qian Nairong is working on efforts to save the language. In response to criticism, Qian reminds people that Shanghainese was once fashionable, saying, "the popularization of Mandarin doesn't equal the ban of dialects. It doesn't make Mandarin a more civilized language either. Promoting dialects is not a narrow-minded localism, as it has been labeled by some netizens". The singer and composer Eheart Chen sings many of his songs in Shanghainese instead of Mandarin to preserve the language. Since 2006, the ''Modern Baby Kindergarten'' in Shanghai has prohibited all of its students from speaking anything but Shanghainese on Fridays to preserve the language amongst younger speakers. In 2011, Professor Qian said that the sole remaining speakers of real Shanghainese are a group of
Shanghainese people Shanghainese people ( cmn, c=, p=Shànghǎirén; Shanghainese Shanghainese (rarely "Shanghaiese", without second "n"), also known as the Shanghai dialect, Hu language or Hu dialect, is a variety of Wu Chinese Wu (Chinese character: , , ...
s over the age of 60 and native citizens who have little outside contact, and he strongly urges that Shanghainese be taught in the regular school system from kindergarten all the way to elementary, saying it is the only way to save Shanghainese, and that attempts to introduce it in university courses and operas are not enough. Fourteen native Shanghainese speakers had audio recordings made of their Shanghainese on May 31, 2011. They were selected based on accent purity, way of pronunciation and other factors. By June 2012, a new television program airing in Shanghainese was created.


Chinese policy toward Shanghainese

Han Chinese The Han Chinese (), or the Han people (), is an East Asian East Asia is the east East is one of the four cardinal direction The four cardinal directions, or cardinal points, are the directions north North is one of the four ...
, who make up 90% of the Chinese population, speak seven topolect groups that each contain many subdivisions and are not mutually intelligible. The remaining 10% of people, who belong to minor ethnic groups, speak more than 300 languages. Before the establishment of the
People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population of more than 1.4 billio ...

People's Republic of China
, there were already attempts to establish a common language system. Therefore, the language issue has always been an important part of the
Chinese Communist Party ) , anthem = "The Internationale" , seats1_title = National People's Congress (13th National People's Congress, 13th) , seats1 = , seats2_title = Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, NPC Standing ...
policy. Other than the government language-management efforts, the rate of rural-to-urban migration in China has also accelerated the shift to
Putonghua Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a brid ...
and the disappearance of native languages and dialects in the urban areas. As more people moved into Shanghai, the economic center of China, Shanghainese has been threatened despite it originally being a strong topolect of
Wu Chinese Wu (Chinese character: , , Mandarin: ) is a group of linguistically similar and historically related Sinitic languages spoken primarily in Shanghai Shanghai (, , Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ) is one of the four ...
. According to Shanghai Municipal Statistics Bureau, the population of Shanghai was estimated to be 24.28 million in 2019, of whom 14.5 million are permanent residents and 9.77 million are migrant residents. To have better communication with foreign residents and develop a top-level financial center among the world, the promotion of the official language, Standard Mandarin, became very important. Therefore, the Shanghai Municipal Government banned the use of Shanghainese in public places, schools, and work. A survey of students from the primary school in 2010 indicated that 52.3% of students believed Mandarin is easier than Shanghainese for communication, and 47.6% of the students choose to speak Mandarin because it is a mandatory language at school. Furthermore, 68.3% of the students are more willing to study Mandarin, but only 10.2% of the students are more willing to study Shanghainese. Many youth can no longer speak Shanghainese fluently because they had no chance to practice it at school. Also, they were unwilling to communicate with their parents in Shanghainese, which has accelerated its decline. The survey in 2010 indicated that 62.6% of primary school students use Mandarin as the first language at home, but only 17.3% of them use Shanghainese to communicate with their parents.


Immigrants' opinions toward Shanghainese

Shanghainese is sometimes viewed as a tool to discriminate against immigrants. Migrants who move from other Chinese cities to Shanghai have little ability to speak Shanghainese. Among the migrant people, some believe Shanghainese represents the superiority of native Shanghainese people. Some also believe that native residents intentionally speak Shanghainese in some places to discriminate against the immigrant population to transfer their anger to migrant workers, who take over their homeland and take advantage of housing, education, medical, and job resources.


Intelligibility and variations

Shanghainese is part of the larger
Wu Chinese Wu (Chinese character: , , Mandarin: ) is a group of linguistically similar and historically related Sinitic languages spoken primarily in Shanghai Shanghai (, , Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ) is one of the four ...
group of Chinese languages. It is not mutually intelligible with any dialects of
Mandarin Chinese Mandarin (; ) is a group of Sinitic languages, Sinitic (Chinese) languages natively spoken across most of northern and southwestern China. The group includes the Beijing dialect, the basis of the phonology of Standard Chinese. Because Mandarin ...
, or
Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t; Yale Yale University is a private Ivy League The Ivy League (also known as The Ancient Eight) is an American collegiate athletic conference comprising eight private research un ...

Cantonese
,
Southern Min Southern Min (), Minnan (Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy ...
(such as Hokkien-Taiwanese), and any other Chinese languages outside Wu. Modern Shanghainese, however, has been influenced by standard Chinese. That makes the Shanghainese spoken by young people in the city different from that spoken by the older population. Also, the practice of inserting Mandarin or both into Shanghainese conversations is very common, at least for young people. Like most subdivisions of Chinese, it is easier for a local speaker to understand Mandarin than it is for a Mandarin speaker to understand the local language. Shanghainese is somewhat similar to the speech of neighboring cities of
Changshu Changshu (; Suzhounese: /d͡ʐan¹³ ʐoʔ²³/) is a county-level city A county-level municipality (), county-level city or county city, formerly known as prefecture-controlled city (1949–1970: ; 1970–1983: ), is a Administr ...
,
Jiaxing Jiaxing (), alternately romanized as Kashing or Kiahsing, is a prefecture-level city in northern Zhejiang province, China. Lying on the Grand Canal of China, Jiaxing borders Hangzhou to the southwest, Huzhou to the west, Shanghai to the northeast ...

Jiaxing
and
Suzhou Suzhou (; ; , Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and c ...

Suzhou
, categorized into Su-Hu-Jia dialect subgroup (苏沪嘉小片) of Wu Chinese by linguists. People mingling between those areas do not need to
code-switch In linguistics, code-switching or language alternation occurs when a speaker alternates between two or more languages, or language Variety (linguistics), varieties, in the context of a single conversation. Multilingualism, Multilinguals, speaker ...
to Mandarin when they speak to each other. However, there are noticeable tonal and phonological changes, which do not impede intelligibility. As the dialect continuum of Wu continues to further distances, however, significant changes occur in phonology and lexicon to the point that it is no longer possible to converse intelligibly. Most Shanghainese speakers find that by
Wuxi Wuxi () is a city in southern Jiangsu Jiangsu (; ; Postal romanization, formerly romanized Kiangsu) is an eastern-central coastal Provinces of the People's Republic of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. It is one of the ...

Wuxi
, differences become significant and that the
Wuxi dialect The Wuxi dialect ( Simplified Chinese: 无锡话; Traditional Chinese: 無錫話; Pinyin: Wúxīhuà, Wu : mu1 sik1 wo3 , Wuxi dialect : u˨˨˧ siɪʔ˦ ɦu˨ is a dialect of Wu. It is spoken in the city of Wuxi Wuxi () is a city in sou ...
would take weeks to months for a Shanghainese-speaker to learn fully. Similarly,
Hangzhou dialect The Hangzhou dialect (, ''Rhangzei Rhwa'') is spoken in the city of Hangzhou Hangzhou (, , Standard Mandarin Standard Chinese, in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a Mand ...
is understood by most Shanghainese-speakers, but it is considered "rougher" and does not have as much glide and flow in comparison. The language evolved in and around
Taizhou, Zhejiang Taizhou (pronunciation in PRC Standard Mandarin: , Taizhou dialect: Thecieu), alternately known as Taichow, is a list of Chinese cities, city located at the middle of the East China Sea coast of Zhejiang list of Chinese provinces, province. It ...
, where it becomes difficult for a Shanghainese speaker to comprehend.
Wenzhounese Wenzhounese (), also known as Oujiang (), Tong Au () or Auish (), is the language spoken in Wenzhou, the southern prefecture of Zhejiang Zhejiang (, formerly romanized as Chekiang) is an eastern, coastal Provinces of China, province of th ...
, spoken in the southernmost part of
Zhejiang Zhejiang (, ; , Chinese postal romanization, also romanized as Chekiang) is an East China, eastern, coastal Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. Its capital and largest city is Hangzhou. Zhejiang is bordered ...

Zhejiang
province, is considered part of the Wu group but mutually unintelligible with Shanghainese.


Phonology

Following conventions of Chinese syllable structure, Shanghainese syllables can be divided into
initials In a written or published work, an initial or drop cap is a letter at the beginning of a word, a chapter (books), chapter, or a paragraph that is larger than the rest of the text. The word is derived from the Latin ''initialis'', which means ''st ...
and finals. The initial occupies the first part of the syllable. The final occupies the second part of the syllable and can be divided further into an optional medial and an obligatory
rime Rime may refer to: *Rime ice Rime ice forms when supercooled water liquid droplets freeze onto surfaces. Meteorology, Meteorologists distinguish between three basic types of ice forming on vertical and horizontal surfaces by deposition of superco ...
(sometimes spelled ''rhyme''). Tone is also a feature of the syllable in Shanghainese. Syllabic tone, which is typical to the other Sinitic languages, has largely become verbal tone in Shanghainese.


Initials

Shanghainese has a set of tenuis,
voiceless In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...

voiceless
aspirated and
voiced Voice or voicing is a term used in phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize i ...
plosive In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of ev ...

plosive
s and
affricate An affricate is a consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pr ...
s, as well as a set of
voiceless In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...

voiceless
and
voiced Voice or voicing is a term used in phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize i ...
fricative Fricatives are consonants manner of articulation, produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two Place of articulation, articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the bac ...
s.
Alveolo-palatal In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical ...
initials are also present in Shanghainese. Voiced stops are phonetically voiceless with slack voice phonation in stressed, word initial position. This phonation (often referred to as murmur) also occurs in zero onset syllables, syllables beginning with
fricatives Fricatives are consonants manner of articulation, produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two Place of articulation, articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the bac ...
, and syllables beginning with
sonorants In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical pro ...
. These consonants are true voiced in intervocalic position.


Finals

The table below lists the vowel nuclei of Shanghainese The following chart lists all possible finals (medial + nucleus + coda) in Shanghainese represented in
IPA IPA commonly refers to: * India pale ale, a style of beer * International Phonetic Alphabet The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabetic system of phonetic notation based primarily on the Latin script Latin script, also ...
. :Syllabic continuants: The transcriptions used above are broad and the following points are of note when pertaining to actual pronunciation: * are similar in pronunciation, differing slightly in lip rounding ( respectively). are also similar in pronunciation, differing slightly in vowel height ( respectively). These two pairs are each merged in younger generations. * Many in younger generations diphthongize to . * is pronounced before rounded vowels. The
Middle Chinese Middle Chinese (formerly known as Ancient Chinese) or the Qieyun system (QYS) is the historical variety of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country ...
rime Rime may refer to: *Rime ice Rime ice forms when supercooled water liquid droplets freeze onto surfaces. Meteorology, Meteorologists distinguish between three basic types of ice forming on vertical and horizontal surfaces by deposition of superco ...
s are retained, while and are either retained or have disappeared in Shanghainese. Middle Chinese rimes have become glottal stops, .


Tones

Shanghainese has five phonetically distinguishable tones for single syllables said in isolation. These tones are illustrated below in Chao tone names. In terms of Middle Chinese tone designations, the ''yin'' tone category has three tones (''yinshang'' and ''yinqu'' tones have merged into one tone), while the ''yang'' category has two tones (the ''yangping'', ''yangshang'', and ''yangqu'' have merged into one tone). The conditioning factors which led to the ''yin–yang'' split still exist in Shanghainese, as they do in other Wu dialects: ''yang'' tones are only found with voiced initials , while the ''yin'' tones are only found with voiceless initials. The ''ru'' tones are abrupt, and describe those rimes which end in a glottal stop . That is, both the ''yin–yang'' distinction and the ''ru'' tones are
allophonic In phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound system of any particular language variety. At one ...
(dependent on syllabic structure). Shanghainese has only a two-way phonemic tone contrast, falling ''vs'' rising, and then only in open syllables with voiceless initials.


Tone sandhi

Tone sandhi Tone sandhi is a phonological change occurring in tonal languages Tone is the use of pitch (music), pitch in language to distinguish lexical or grammatical meaning – that is, to distinguish or to inflection, inflect words. All verbal langua ...
is a process whereby adjacent tones undergo dramatic alteration in connected speech. Similar to other Northern Wu dialects, Shanghainese is characterized by two forms of tone sandhi: a word tone sandhi and a phrasal tone sandhi. Word tone sandhi in Shanghainese can be described as left-prominent and is characterized by a dominance of the first syllable over the contour of the entire tone domain. As a result, the underlying tones of syllables other than the leftmost syllable, have no effect on the tone contour of the domain. The pattern is generally described as tone spreading (T1-4) or tone shifting (T5, except for 4- and 5-syllable compounds, which can undergo spreading or shifting). The table below illustrates possible tone combinations. As an example, in isolation, the two syllables of the word for ''China'' are pronounced with T1 and T4: and . However, when pronounced in combination, T1 from spreads over the compound resulting in the following pattern . Similarly, the syllables in a common expression for ''foolish'' have the following underlying phonemic and tonal representations: (T5), (T1), and (T2). However, the syllables in combination exhibit the T5 shifting pattern where the first-syllable T5 shifts to the last syllable in the domain: . Phrasal tone sandhi in Shanghainese can be described as right-prominent and is characterized by a right syllable retaining its underlying tone and a left syllable receiving a mid-level tone based on the underlying tone's register. The table below indicates possible left syllable tones in right-prominent compounds. For instance, when combined, ("buy") and ("wine") become ("buy wine"). Sometimes meaning can change based on whether left-prominent or right-prominent sandhi is used. For example, ("fry") and ("noodle") when pronounced (i.e., with left-prominent sandhi) means "fried noodles". When pronounced (i.e., with right-prominent sandhi), it means "to fry noodles".


Common words and phrases

''Note: Chinese characters for Shanghainese are not standardized and are provided for reference only. IPA transcription is for the Middle Period of modern Shanghainese (), pronunciation of those between 20 and 60 years old.''


Literary and vernacular pronunciations


Grammar

Like all
Sinitic languages The Sinitic languages, often synonymous with "Chinese languages", constitute the major branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages, Sino-Tibetan language family. It is frequently proposed that there is a primary split between the Sinitic languages an ...
, Shanghainese is an
isolating language An isolating language is a type of language with morpheme A morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit in a language. A morpheme is not necessarily the same as a word. The main difference between a morpheme and a word is that a morpheme bound ...
that lacks marking for tense, person, case, number or gender. Similarly, there is no distinction for tense or person in verbs, with word order and particles generally expressing these grammatical characteristics. There are, however, three important derivational processes in Shanghainese.Zhu 2006, pp.53. Although formal
inflection In linguistic morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical ob ...
is very rare in all varieties of Chinese, there does exist in Shanghainese a morpho-phonological
tone sandhi Tone sandhi is a phonological change occurring in tonal languages Tone is the use of pitch (music), pitch in language to distinguish lexical or grammatical meaning – that is, to distinguish or to inflection, inflect words. All verbal langua ...
that Zhu (2006) identifies as a form of inflection since it forms new words out of pre-existing phrases.Zhu 2006, pp.54. This type of inflection is a distinguishing characteristic of all Northern Wu dialects. Affixation, generally (but not always) taking the form of suffixes, occurs rather frequently in Shanghainese, enough so that this feature contrasts even with other Wu varieties, although the line between suffix and particle is somewhat nebulous. Most affixation applies to adjectives. In the example below, the suffix -''deusir'' changes an adjective into a noun. Words can be
reduplicated In linguistics, reduplication is a Morphology (linguistics), morphological process in which the Root (linguistics), root or Stem (linguistics), stem of a word (or part of it) or even the whole word is repeated exactly or with a slight change. The ...

reduplicated
in order to express various differences in meaning. Nouns, for example, can be reduplicated to express collective or
diminutive A diminutive is a root word A root (or root word) is the core of a word that is irreducible into more meaningful elements. In morphology, a root is a morphologically simple unit which can be left bare or to which a prefix A prefix is an aff ...
forms; adjectives so as to intensify or emphasize the associated description; and verbs in order to soften the degree of action. Below is an example of noun reduplication resulting in semantic alteration. Word compounding is also very common in Shanghainese, a fact observed as far back as Edkins (1868), and is the most productive method of creating new words. Many recent borrowings in Shanghainese originating from European languages are di- or polysyllabic.


Word order

Shanghainese adheres generally to SVO word order. The placement of objects in Wu dialects is somewhat variable, with Southern Wu varieties positioning the direct object before the indirect object, and Northern varieties (especially in the speech of younger people) favoring the indirect object before the direct object. Owing to Mandarin influence, Shanghainese usually follows the latter model. Older speakers of Shanghainese tend to place adverbs after the verb, but younger people, again under heavy influence from Mandarin, favor pre-verbal placement of adverbs.Pan et al 1991, pp.271. The third person singular pronoun ''xii'' (he/she/it) or the derived phrase ''xii ka'' ("he says") can appear at the end of a sentence. This construction, which appears to be unique to Shanghainese, is commonly employed to project the speaker's differing expectation relative to the content of the phrase. ::''xii xii ka, ka veq ho'' ::"Unexpectedly, he says no."


Nouns

Except for the limited derivational processes described above, Shanghainese nouns are isolating. There is no inflection for case or number, nor is there any overt gender marking. Although Shanghainese does lack overt
grammatical number In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category A grammatical category or grammatical feature is a property of items within the grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is ...
, the plural marker -''la'', when suffixed to a human denoting noun, can indicate a collective meaning.Zhu 2006, pp.59. ::''xuqsang-la xeq sir'' ::"students' books" There are no articles in Shanghainese, and thus, no marking for definiteness or indefiniteness of nouns. Certain determiners (a demonstrative pronoun or numeral classifier, for instance) can imply definite or indefinite qualities, as can word order. A noun absent any sort of determiner in the subject position is definite, whereas it is indefinite in the object position.


Classifiers

Shanghainese boasts numerous classifiers (also sometimes known as "counters" or "measure words"). Most classifiers in Shanghainese are used with nouns, although a small number are used with verbs.Zhu 2006, pp.71. Some classifiers are based on standard measurements or containers. Classifiers can be paired with a preceding determiner (often a numeral) to form a compound that further specifies the meaning of the noun it modifies. Classifiers can be reduplicated to mean "all" or "every", as in: ::''penpen'' ::(CL-RD for "book") ::"every
ook Ook, OoK or OOK may refer to: * Ook Chung (born 1963), Korean-Canadian writer from Quebec * On-off keyingOn-off or Onoff may refer to: * On-off control, a type of feedback controller * On-off keying, a type of line modulation * On-off relationsh ...

ook


Verbs

Shanghainese verbs are analytic and as such do not undergo any sort of
conjugation Conjugation or conjugate may refer to: Linguistics * Grammatical conjugation, the modification of a verb from its basic form * Emotive conjugation or Russell's conjugation, the use of loaded language Mathematics * Complex conjugation, the change ...
to express tense or person.Zhu 2006, pp.82. However, the language does have a richly developed
aspect Aspect or Aspects may refer to: Entertainment * ''Aspect magazine ASPECT Volume 9: Performance ''ASPECT'' was a biannual DVD The DVD (common abbreviation for Digital Video Disc or Digital Versatile Disc) is a digital optical disc data stor ...
system, expressed using various particles.


Aspect

Some disagreement exists as to how many formal aspect categories exist in Shanghainese, and a variety of different particles can express the same aspect, with individual usage often reflecting generational divisions. Some linguists identify as few as four or six, and others up to twelve specific aspects.Zhu 2006, pp.81. Zhu (2006) identifies six relatively uncontroversial aspects in Shanghainese. Progressive aspect expresses a continuous action. It is indicated by the particles , or , which occur pre-verbally. The resultative aspect expresses the result of an action which was begun before a specifically referenced timeframe, and is also indicated by , or , except that these occur post-verbally. Perfective aspect can be marked by ''leq'', ''tsir'', ''hao'' or ''lae''. Notably, ''tsir'' is regarded as an old-fashioned usage.Zhu 2006, pp.83. Zhu (2006) identifies a future aspect, indicated by the particle ''iao''. Qian (1997) identifies a separate immediate future aspect, marked post-verbally by ''khua''. Experiential aspect expresses the completion of an action before a specifically referenced timeframe, marked post-verbally by the particle ''ku''.Zhu 2006, pp.84. The durative aspect is marked post-verbally by ''xochii'', and expresses a continuous action. In some cases, it is possible to combine two aspect markers into a larger verb phrase.


Mood and Voice

There is no overt marking for mood in Shanghainese, and Zhu (2006) goes so far as to suggest that the concept of grammatical mood does not exist in the language.Zhu 2006, pp.89. There are, however, several modal auxiliaries (many of which have multiple variants) that collectively express concepts of desire, conditionality, potentiality and ability. :: Shen (2016) argues for the existence of a type of
passive voice A passive voice construction is a grammatical voice In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (S ...

passive voice
in Shanghainese, governed by the particle ''be''. This construction is superficially similar to by-phrases in English, and only
transitive Transitivity or transitive may refer to: Grammar * Transitivity (grammar), a property of verbs that relates to whether a verb can take direct objects * Transitive verb, a verb which takes an object * Transitive case, a grammatical case to mark arg ...
verbs can occur in this form of passive.


Pronouns

Personal pronouns in Shanghainese do not distinguish
gender Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between femininity Femininity (also called womanliness or girlishness) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with women A woman is ...
or
case Case or CASE may refer to: Containers * Case (goods), a package of related merchandise * Case, the metallic enclosure component in modern firearm cartridge (firearms), cartridges * Bookcase, a piece of furniture used to store books * Briefcase or ...
.Zhu 2006, pp.64. Owing to its isolating grammatical structure, Shanghainese is not a
pro-drop language A pro-drop language (from "pronoun-dropping") is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a ...
. :: There is some degree of flexibility concerning pronoun usage in Shanghainese. Older varieties of Shanghainese featured a different 1st person singular, or ,Hashimoto 1971, pp.249. and newer varieties feature a variant of the 2nd person plural as .Chao 1967, pp.99. While Zhu (2006) asserts that there is no inclusive 1st person plural pronoun, Hashimoto (1971) disagrees, identifying as being inclusive. There are generational and geographical distinctions in the usage of plural pronoun forms, as well as differences of pronunciation in the 1st person singular. Reflexive pronouns are formed by the addition of the particle , as in: Possessive pronouns are formed via the pronominal suffix -''xeq''. ::


Adjectives

Most native Shanghainese adjectives are monosyllabic. Like other parts of speech, adjectives do not change to indicate number, gender or case. Adjectives can take semantic prefixes, which themselves can be reduplicated or repositioned as suffixes according to a complex system of derivation, in order to express degree of comparison or other changes in meaning. Thus: ::''lang'' ("cold") ::''pinlang'' ("ice-cold") ::''pinpinlang'' ("cold as ice")


Interrogatives

The particle ''va'' is used to transform ordinary declarative statements into yes/no questions. This is the most common way of forming questions in Shanghainese.


Negation

Nouns and verbs can be
negated In logic, negation, also called the logical complement, is an operation (mathematics), operation that takes a Proposition (mathematics), proposition P to another proposition "not P", written \neg P, \mathord P or \overline. It is interpreted i ...
by the particle ''mmeq'', whereas in most cases only nouns can be negated by or just . ::''geq veqzir daetsir'' ::(this not-be table) ::"This is not a table."


Writing

Chinese character Chinese characters, also called ''hanzi'' (), are logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, ...

Chinese character
s are used to write Shanghainese.
Romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspec ...
of Shanghainese was first developed by
Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of , but disagree among themselves ...
English and American
Christian missionaries A Christian mission is an organized effort to spread Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Je ...
in the 19th century, including
Joseph Edkins Joseph Edkins (19 December 1823 – 23 April 1905) was a British Protestant missionary who spent 57 years in China, 30 of them in Beijing. As a Sinologue, he specialised in Chinese religions. He was also a linguistics, linguist, a translator, an ...

Joseph Edkins
. Usage of this romanization system was mainly confined to translated
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...
s for use by native Shanghainese, or English-Shanghainese dictionaries, some of which also contained characters, for foreign missionaries to learn Shanghainese. A system of phonetic symbols similar to Chinese characters called "New Phonetic Character" were also developed by in the 19th century by American missionary Tarleton Perry Crawford. Shanghainese is sometimes written informally using
homophone A homophone () is a word that is pronouncedPronunciation is the way in which a word or a language is spoken. This may refer to generally agreed-upon sequences of sounds used in speaking a given word or language in a specific dialect ("correct ...
s: "lemon" (), written in Standard Chinese, may be written (person-door; in standard pinyin) in Shanghainese; and "yellow" () may be written (meaning king; and in standard pinyin) rather than the standard character for yellow. These are not homophones in Mandarin, but are homophones in Shanghainese. There are also some homophones in Mandarin which are not homophonic in Shanghainese, e.g. , and , all in Standard Mandarin. Protestant missionaries in the 1800s created the Shanghainese Phonetic Symbols to write Shanghainese phonetically. The symbols are a syllabary similar to the Japanese
Kana The term may refer to a number of syllabaries In the linguistic Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. ...

Kana
system. The system has not been used and is only seen in a few historical books.


See also

*
Shanghainese people Shanghainese people ( cmn, c=, p=Shànghǎirén; Shanghainese Shanghainese (rarely "Shanghaiese", without second "n"), also known as the Shanghai dialect, Hu language or Hu dialect, is a variety of Wu Chinese Wu (Chinese character: , , ...
* Haipai *
Wu Chinese Wu (Chinese character: , , Mandarin: ) is a group of linguistically similar and historically related Sinitic languages spoken primarily in Shanghai Shanghai (, , Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ) is one of the four ...
**
Suzhounese The Suzhou dialect (; Suzhounese: ''Sou-tseu ghé-ghô'' ), also known as Suzhounese, is the Varieties of Chinese, variety of Chinese traditionally spoken in the city of Suzhou in Jiangsu, Jiangsu Province, China. Suzhounese is a variety of W ...
** Hangzhounese ** Ningbonese *
List of varieties of Chinese The following is a list of Sinitic languages and their dialects. For a traditional dialectological overview, see also varieties of Chinese Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety Algebraic varieties are ...
*
Chinatown, Flushing There are multiple Chinatowns in the borough A borough is an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, a ...


References


Citations


Sources

* Lance Eccles, ''Shanghai dialect: an introduction to speaking the contemporary language''. Dunwoody Press, 1993. . 230 pp +
cassette Cassette may refer to: Technology * Cassette tape (or ''musicassette'', ''audio cassette'', ''cassette tape'', or ''tape''), a worldwide standard for analog audio recording and playback ** Cassette single (or "Cassingle"), a music single in the f ...
. (An introductory course in 29 units). * Xiaonong Zhu, ''A Grammar of Shanghai Wu''. LINCOM Studies in Asian Linguistics 66, LINCOM Europa, Munich, 2006. . 201+iv pp.


Further reading

* * * * * * * * * *
Pott, F. L. Hawks (Francis Lister Hawks), 1864–1947 , The ...
* * * * * *
Shanghai steps up efforts to save local language

Archive
. ''
CNN The Cable News Network (CNN) is a multinational news-based pay television Pay television also known as subscription television, premium television or, when referring to an individual service, a premium channel, refers to subscription-based t ...

CNN
''. March 31, 2011.


External links


Shanghainese audio lesson series
Audio lessons with accompanying dialogue and vocabulary study tools

Resources on Shanghai dialect including a Web site (in Japanese) that gives common phrases with sound files
Wu AssociationIAPSD , International Association for Preservation of the Shanghainese Dialect
*Recordings of Shanghainese are available through
Kaipuleohone Kaipuleohone is a digital ethnographic archive that houses audio and visual files, photographs, as well as hundreds of textual material such as notes, dictionaries, and transcriptions relating to small and endangered languages. The archive is stored ...
, including talking about entertainment and food, and words and sentences {{DEFAULTSORT:Shanghainese Dialect Shanghainese, Wu Chinese Culture in Shanghai Languages of China Languages of Taiwan Languages of Hong Kong Languages of the United States Languages of Canada City colloquials