Ningbo dialect

Ningbo dialect
Pronunciation ɲìɲ.pɐ́u.ɛ́.ó~ɲìɲ.póʔ.ɛ́.ó
Native to People's Republic of China
Region Ningbo & Zhoushan, Zhejiang province
Ethnicity Ningbo people (Han Chinese)
Native speakers
5-6 million[citation needed]
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog ning1280 [1]
Linguasphere 79-AAA-dbf (also 79-AAA-dbg on Zhoushan archipelago)
Bible in Ningpo Romanised (Genesis), published by the British and Foreign Bible Society.

The Ningbo dialect (Chinese: 宁波话/寧波話, 宁波闲话/寧波閒話) is a dialect of Wu Chinese, one subdivision of Chinese language. Ningbo dialect is spoken throughout Ningbo and Zhoushan prefectures, in Zhejiang province.

Intelligibility [ edit ]

Ningbo dialect native speakers generally understand Shanghainese, another dialect of Wu. However, Shanghainese speakers do not always have full understanding of the Ningbo dialect. It is not mutually intelligible with Mandarin Chinese, or any other subdivision of the Chinese language. Ningbo dialect is considered a Yongjiang dialect or Mingzhou dialect (as both terms are synonymous), and is closely related to the Taihu Wu dialects of Zhoushan. In terms of inter-intelligibility between dialects within the Yong-Jiang subgroup, they can be more accurately described as 'accents' () as these dialects are relatively uniform and almost identical to each other aside from pronunciation differences and some minor lexical differences.

Phonology [ edit ]

Initials [ edit ]

Initial consonants[2]
  Labial Dental/Alveolar Alveolo-Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ  
Plosive tenuis p t k ʔ
voiced b d ɡ  
Affricate tenuis ts
aspirated tsʰ tɕʰ  
voiced dz  
Fricative voiceless f s ɕ   h
voiced v z ʑ   ɦ
Lateral l

Finals [ edit ]

Vowel nuclei
Front Central Back
Unrounded Rounded
Close /i/ /y, ʏ/ /u/
Close-mid /e/ /ø/ /o/
Open-mid /ɛ/ /ə/ /ɔ/
Open /a/
Diphthong /ɐi, ɐu, œʏ/
Coda Open Nasal Glottal stop
Medial j w j w j w
Nucleus i i         jeʔ    
y y         ɥøʔ    
ʏ ʏ                
u u                
e e                
ø ø                
o o     joŋ   joʔ  
ɛ ɛ              
ə       ən   wən      
ɔ ɔ   ɔ̃ jɔ̃ wɔ̃      
a a ja wa ã   waʔ
ɐi ɐi   wɐi            
ɐu ɐu                
œʏ œʏ                
Syllabic continuants: [z̩] [z̩ʷ] [m̩] [n̩] [ŋ̩] [l̩]


  • The table contains two additional finals /yɲ, ɥøʔ/. These have merged with /joŋ, joʔ/ respectively in younger generations.
  • /y, ʏ/ are similar in pronunciation, differing slightly in lip rounding ([y, iᵝ] respectively). The two are merged in younger generations.
  • /j/ is pronounced [ɥ] before rounded vowels.

Tones [ edit ]

Middle Chinese tone
píng shǎng
yīn ˥˧ (53) ˧˥ (35) ˦ (44) ʔ˥ (55)
yáng ˨˦ (24) ˨˩˧ (213) ʔ˩˨ (12)

Examples [ edit ]





See also [ edit ]

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Ningbo". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ a b Tang, Zhenzhu (1997). Níngbō fāngyán cídiǎn 宁波方言词典 [Ningbo dialect dictionary]. Nanjing. p. 7. ISBN 978-7-5343-3120-6.
  3. ^ Hu, Fang (2005). A phonetic study of the vowels in Ningbo Chinese (Thesis). City University of Hong Kong.
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