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The Hui Dialects

Hui, or Hui-yu (Simplified Chinese: ; Traditional Chinese: ; Hanyu Pinyin: , or Huizhou-hua (Simplified Chinese: ; Traditional Chinese: ; Hanyu Pinyin: ), is a subdivision of spoken Chinese. Its exact status is greatly disputed among linguists. Some prefer to classify it under Wu, others prefer to classify it under Gan, still others set it apart as an independent branch.

Hui is spoken over a small area compared to other Chinese varieties: about ten or so mountainous counties in southern Anhui, plus a few more in neighbouring Zhejiang and Jiangxi. Despite its small size, Hui displays more internal variation than any other division of Chinese except arguably Min. Nearly every county has its own distinct dialect unintelligible to a speaker a few counties away. It is for this reason that bilingualism and multilingualism are common among speakers of Hui.

Like all other varieties of Chinese, there is plenty of dispute as to whether Hui is a language or a dialect. See here for the issues surrounding this dispute.


Hui can be divided into five dialects:

  • Jixi-Shexian, spoken in Jixi, Shexian, Huizhou, Jingde, and Ningguo, Anhui province, as well as Chun'an, Zhejiang province
  • Xiuning-Yixian, spoken in Tunxi, Taiping, Xiuning, Yixian, and Qimen, as well as Wuyuan, Jiangxi province
  • Qimen-Dexing, spoken in Qimen and Dongzhi, Anhui province, as well as Fuliang, Dexing, and Wuyuan, Jiangxi province
  • Yanzhou, spoken in Chun'an and Jiande, Zhejiang province
  • Jingde-Zhanda, spoken in Jingde, Qimen, Shitai, Yixian, and Ningguo, Anhui province


Phonologically speaking, Hui is noted for its massive loss of codas, including -i, -u, and nasals:

Many dialects of Hui have diphthongs with a higher, lengthened first part. For example, "speech" is /uːɜ/ in Xiuning County (Putonghua //), "yard" is /yːɛ/ in Xiuning County (Putonghua //); "knot" is /tɕiːaʔ/ in Yixian (Putonghua /tɕiɛ/), "agreement" is /iːuʔ/ in Yixian (Putonghua /yɛ/). A few areas take this to extremes. For example, Likou, Qimen has /fũːmɛ̃/ for "rice" (Putonghua /fan/), with the /m/ appearing directly as a result of the lengthened, nasalized /ũː/.

Because nasal codas have mostly dropped off, Hui reuses the /-n/ ending as a diminutive. For example, in the Tunxi dialect, there is "rope" /soːn/ < /soʔ/ + /-n/.

The above is an adaption from

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