Jin Chinese

晋语 / 晉語
Jinyu written in Chinese characters
Native toChina
Regionmost of Shanxi province; central Inner Mongolia; parts of Hebei, Henan, Shaanxi
Native speakers
63.05 million (2012)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3cjy
Idioma jin.png
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese晉語
Simplified Chinese晋语
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese山西話
Simplified Chinese山西话
Literal meaningShanxi speech
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Jin (simplified Chinese: 晋语; traditional Chinese: 晉語; pinyin: jìnyǔ) is a group of Chinese dialects or languages spoken by roughly 63 million people in northern China. Its geographical distribution covers most of Shanxi province except for the lower Fen River valley, much of central Inner Mongolia and adjoining areas in Hebei, Henan, and Shaanxi provinces. The status of Jin is disputed among linguists; some prefer to classify it as a dialect of Mandarin, but others set it apart as a closely related, but separate sister-language to Mandarin.


Until the 1980s, Jin dialects were universally included within Mandarin Chinese. In 1985, however, Li Rong proposed that Jin should be considered a separate top-level dialect group, similar to Yue or Wu. His main criterion was that Jin dialects had preserved the entering tone as a separate category, still marked with a glottal stop as in the Wu dialects, but distinct in this respect from most other Mandarin dialects.

Other linguists have subsequently adopted this classification. However, some linguists still do not agree that Jin should be considered a separate dialect group for these reasons:[2][3]

  1. Use of the entering tone as a diagnostic feature is inconsistent with the way that all other Chinese dialect groups have been delineated based on the reflexes of the Middle Chinese voiced initials.
  2. Certain other Mandarin dialects also preserve the glottal stop, especially the Jianghuai dialects, and so far, no linguist has claimed that these dialects should also be split from Mandarin.

The Jin group lacks a prominent representative dialect. Several authors have used Taiyuan dialect as a representative, but its vocabulary is close to Mandarin dialects.[4]

In the Language Atlas of China, Jin was divided into 8 subgroups:[5]

The main dialect areas of Jin in China.
spoken in central Shanxi (the ancient Bing Province), including Taiyuan.
spoken in western Shanxi (including Lüliang) and northern Shaanxi.
spoken in the area of Changzhi (ancient Shangdang) in southeastern Shanxi.
spoken in parts of northern Shanxi (including Wutai County) and central Inner Mongolia.
spoken in parts of northern Shanxi and central Inner Mongolia, including Baotou.
spoken in Zhangjiakou in northwestern Hebei and parts of central Inner Mongolia, including Hohhot.
spoken in southeastern Shanxi, southern Hebei (including Handan) and northern Henan (including Xinxiang).
spoken in Zhidan County and Yanchuan County in northern Shaanxi.


Unlike most varieties of Mandarin, Jin has preserved a final glottal stop, which is the remnant of a final stop consonant (/p/, /t/ or /k/). This is in common with the Early Mandarin of the Yuan Dynasty (c. 14th century AD) and with a number of modern southern varieties of Chinese. In Middle Chinese, syllables closed with a stop consonant had no tone; Chinese linguists, however, prefer to categorize such syllables as belonging to a separate tone class, traditionally called the "entering tone". Syllables closed with a glottal stop in Jin are still toneless, or alternatively, Jin can be said to still maintain the entering tone. (In standard Mandarin Chinese, syllables formerly ending with a glottal stop have been reassigned to one of the other tone classes in a seemingly random fashion.)

Jin employs extremely complex tone sandhi, or tone changes that occur when words are put together into phrases. The tone sandhi of Jin is notable in two ways among Chinese varieties:[citation needed]

  • Tone sandhi rules depend on the grammatical structure of the words being put together. Hence, an adjective–noun compound may go through different sets of changes compared to a verb–object compound.
  • There are tones that merge when words are pronounced alone, but behave differently (and hence are differentiated) during tone sandhi.


Jin readily employs prefixes such as /kəʔ/, /xəʔ/, and /zəʔ/, in a variety of derivational constructions. For example:
"fool around" < "ghost, devil"

In addition, there are a number of words in Jin that evolved, evidently, by splitting a mono-syllabic word into two, adding an 'l' in between (cf. Ubbi Dubbi, but with /l/ instead of /b/). For example:

/pəʔ ləŋ/ < pəŋ "hop"
/tʰəʔ luɤ/ < tʰuɤ "drag"
/kuəʔ la/ < kua "scrape"
/xəʔ lɒ̃/ < xɒ̃ "street"

A similar process can in fact be found in most Mandarin dialects (e.g. 窟窿 kulong < kong), but it is especially common in Jin.

This may be a kind of reservation for double-initials in Old Chinese, although this is still controversial. For example, the character (pronounced /kʰoːŋ/ in Mandarin) which appears more often as 窟窿 /kʰuəʔ luŋ/ in Jin, had the pronunciation like /kʰloːŋ/ in Old Chinese.[citation needed]


Some dialects of Jin make a three-way distinction in demonstratives. (Modern English, for example, has only a two-way distinction between "this" and "that", with "yon" being archaic.)


  1. ^ CASS 2012, p. 3.
  2. ^ Yan 2006, pp. 60–61, 67–69.
  3. ^ Kurpaska 2010, pp. 74–75.
  4. ^ 乔全生. 晋方言研究的历史、现状与未来 [The history, current state and future of the research on Jin Chinese] (PDF). p. 10. 太原方言的词汇与其他方言比较,结果认为晋方言的词汇与官话方言非常接近。
  5. ^ Kurpaska 2010, p. 68.


  • Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (2012), Zhōngguó yǔyán dìtú jí (dì 2 bǎn): Hànyǔ fāngyán juǎn 中国语言地图集(第2版):汉语方言卷 [Language Atlas of China (2nd edition): Chinese dialect volume], Beijing: The Commercial Press.
  • Hou Jingyi 侯精一; Shen Ming 沈明 (2002), Hou Jingyi 侯精一 (ed.), 现代汉语方言概论 [Overview of modern Chinese dialects] (in Chinese), Shanghai Education Press, ISBN 7-5320-8084-6
  • Kurpaska, Maria (2010), Chinese Language(s): A Look Through the Prism of The Great Dictionary of Modern Chinese Dialects, Walter de Gruyter, ISBN 978-3-11-021914-2
  • Yan, Margaret Mian (2006), Introduction to Chinese Dialectology, LINCOM Europa, ISBN 978-3-89586-629-6.

External links

This page was last updated at 2021-06-18 22:08, update this pageView original page

All information on this site, including but not limited to text, pictures, etc., are reproduced on Wikipedia (wikipedia.org), following the . Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License


If the math, chemistry, physics and other formulas on this page are not displayed correctly, please useFirefox or Safari