Gangou language

甘沟话 / 甘溝語
Native toChina
RegionMinhe County, Qinghai
Native speakers
(unclear; 12,000 residents of Gangou township cited 1990)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)

Gangou is a variety of Mandarin Chinese that has been strongly influenced by Monguor (Mongol) and Amdo (Tibetan). It is representative of Chinese varieties spoken in rural Qinghai that have been influenced by neighboring minority languages.[1]

Gangou Mandarin is spoken in Minhe Hui and Tu Autonomous County, at the very eastern tip of Qinghai, an area of the Gansu–Qinghai Sprachbund with a large minority population, and where even today Han Chinese were a minority in close contact with their neighbors. Many of the local Han may actually have little Chinese ancestry. The dialect has a number of common words borrowed from Monguor, as well as kinship terms from Monguor and Tibetan. Some syntactic structures, such as an SOV word order and direct objects marked by a postposition, have parallels in Monguor and to a lesser extinct Tibetan.

There are also phonological differences from Standard Mandarin, though it is not clear whether these are shared by local Mandarin dialects not so strongly influenced by minority languages. For example, Standard y and w are pronounced [z] and [v], so yi 'one' is [zi] while wu 'five' and wang 'king' are [vu] and [vã]. There is no distinction between final -n and -ng: both are replaced by a nasal vowel. The consonants represented by j, q, x in pinyin do not exist; they are replaced by z, c, s before i[3] and by g, k, h elsewhere, at least in some cases reflecting their historical origin. Thus 解 jiě 'untie' is pronounced gai, like Cantonese gaai², and 鞋 xié 'shoe' is pronounced hai, like Cantonese haai⁴.[4]


  1. ^ a b Feng Lide and Kevin Stuart, "Interethnic cultural contact on the Inner Asian frontier: The Gangou people of Minhe County, Qinghai." Sino-Platonic Papers 33 (1992), pp 4–8.[1]
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Gangou". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Pronounced as pinyin zi, ci, si.
  4. ^ Although all the examples before other vowels correspond to historical forms, not all examples before i do. For example, 鷄 'chicken' is gai¹ in Cantonese, but zi in Gangou dialect. Thus it may be that Feng and Stuart should be taken at face value when they imply that historical *g *k *h and historical *z *c *s both become z c s before i and both become g k h elsewhere.

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