The Shanghainese language, also known as the Shanghai dialect, Hu language or Hu dialect, is a variety of Wu Chinese spoken in the central districts of the City of Shanghai and its surrounding areas. It is classified as part of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Shanghainese, like other Wu variants, is mutually unintelligible with other varieties of Chinese, such as Mandarin.[2]

Shanghainese belongs to the Taihu Wu subgroup, and contains vocabulary and expressions from the entire Taihu Wu area of southern Jiangsu and northern Zhejiang. With nearly 14 million speakers, Shanghainese is also the largest single form of Wu Chinese. It serves as the lingua franca of the entire Yangtze River Delta region.

Shanghainese is rich in vowels [i y ɪ ʏ e ø ɛ ə ɐ a ɑ ɔ ɤ o ʊ u] (twelve of which are phonemic) and in consonants. Like other Taihu Wu dialects, Shanghainese has voiced initials [b d ɡ ɦ z v dʑ ʑ]: neither Cantonese nor Mandarin has voiced initial stops or affricates. The Shanghainese tonal system is also significantly different from other Chinese varieties, sharing more similarities with the Japanese pitch accent, with two level tonal contrasts (high and low), whereas Cantonese and Mandarin are typical of contour tonal languages.

上海話 / 上海话 Zaonhegho
上海閒話 / 上海闲话 Zaonhe-ghegho
滬語 / 沪语 Wu nyu
Pronunciation[z̥ɑ̃̀héɦɛ̀ɦò], [ɦùɲý]
Native toChina, overseas communities
RegionCity of Shanghai and surrounding Yangtze River Delta
EthnicityShanghainese people
Native speakers
10–14 million (2013)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
ISO 639-6suji
Glottologshan1293  Shanghainese[1]
Linguasphere79-AAA-dbb >
Literal meaningShanghai language
Zaanhe Hhehho
[z̥ɑ̃̀hé ɦɛ̀ɦò]
Literal meaningShanghai speech
Hu language
Literal meaningHu (Shanghai) language


Shanghai did not become a regional center of commerce until it was opened to foreign investment during the late Qing dynasty. Consequently, languages and dialects spoken around Shanghai had long been subordinate to those spoken around Jiaxing and later Suzhounese. In the late 19th century, most vocabulary of the Shanghai area had been a hybrid between Southern Jiangsu and Ningbonese.[3] 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 as the prestige dialect of the Yangtze River Delta region. It underwent sustained growth that reached a hiatus in the 1930s during the Republican era, when migrants arrived in Shanghai and immersed themselves in the local tongue.

After 1949, the 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 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 were added. The Shanghainese TV series Lao Niang Jiu (Old Uncle) was broadcast from 1995 to 2007 [4] 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,[5] and many children native to Shanghai can no longer speak Shanghainese.[6] 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.[3]

Since 2005, new movements have emerged to protect Shanghainese from fading away. At municipal legislative discussions in 2005, former 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, a native Shanghainese himself, reportedly supported her proposal.[3] 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.[7]

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.[8][9] 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".[10] The singer and composer Eheart Chen sings many of his songs in Shanghainese instead of Mandarin to preserve the language.[11]

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.[12][13] In 2011, Professor Qian said that the sole remaining speakers of real Shanghainese are a group of Shanghainese peoples 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.[14]

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.[15]

Intelligibility and variations

Wu Dialects
Map of dialects of Wu: Shanghainese is in dark red.

Shanghainese is part of the larger Wu Chinese of Chinese languages. It is not mutually intelligible with any dialects of Mandarin Chinese, neither Cantonese, Southern Min (such as Hokkien-Taiwanese), and any other Chinese languages outside Wu. It is around 50% intelligible (with 28.9% lexical similarity) with the Mandarin, heard in Beijing. Modern Shanghainese, however, has been heavily influenced by modern Mandarin and other Chinese languages, such as Cantonese. That makes the Shanghainese spoken by young people in the city different, sometimes significantly, from that spoken by the older population and also that inserting Mandarin, Cantonese or both into Shanghainese sentences during everyday conversation 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, Jiaxing and Suzhou, categorized into Su-Hu-Jia dialect subgroup (苏沪嘉小片) of Wu Chinese by linguistists. People mingling between those areas do not need to code-switch 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, differences become significant and that the Wuxi dialect would take weeks to months for a Shanghainese-speaker to learn fully. Similarly, Hangzhou dialect 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, where it becomes difficult for a Shanghainese speaker to comprehend. Wenzhounese, spoken in the southernmost part of Zhejiang province, is considered part of the Wu group but mutually unintelligible with Shanghainese.


Following conventions of Chinese syllable structure, Shanghainese syllables can be divided into initials 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 (sometimes spelled rhyme). Tone is also a feature of the syllable in Shanghainese.[16]:6–16 Syllabic tone, which is typical to the other Sinitic languages, has largely become verbal tone in Shanghainese.


Initials of Shanghainese
  Labial Dental/Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ  
Plosive tenuis p k
aspirated t̪ʰ  
voiced b ɡ  
Affricate tenuis t͡s t͡ɕ
aspirated t͡sʰ t͡ɕʰ  
voiced d͡ʑ  
Fricative voiceless f s ɕ   h
voiced v z ʑ   ɦ
Lateral l

Shanghainese has a set of tenuis, voiceless aspirated and voiced plosives and affricates, as well as a set of voiceless and voiced fricatives. Alveolo-palatal initials are also present in Shanghainese.

Voiced stops are phonetically voiceless with slack voice phonation in stressed, word initial position.[17] This phonation (often referred to as murmur) also occurs in zero onset syllables, syllables beginning with fricatives, and syllables beginning with sonorants. These consonants are true voiced in intervocalic position.[18]


The table below lists the vowel nuclei of Shanghainese[19]

Front Central Back
Unrounded Rounded
Close /i/ /y/ /u, o/
Mid /ɛ/ /ø/ /ə/ /ɔ/
Open /a/ /ɑ/
Diphthong /e, ɤ/

The following chart lists all possible finals (medial + nucleus + coda) in Shanghainese represented in IPA.[19][20][16]:11

Coda Open Nasal Glottal stop
Medial j w j w j w
Nucleus i i                
y y                
u u                
o o                
e e   we            
ɤ ɤ              
ɛ ɛ ɪɲ     ɪʔ    
ø ø ʏɲ     ʏʔ    
ə       ən   wən əʔ   wəʔ
ɔ ɔ   ʊŋ jʊŋ   ʊʔ jʊʔ  
a a ja wa ã ɐʔ jɐʔ wɐʔ
ɑ       ɑ̃ jɑ̃ wɑ̃      
Syllabic continuants: [z̩] [m̩] [ŋ̩] [l̩]

The transcriptions used above are broad and the following points are of note when pertaining to actual pronunciation:[19]

  • [u] and [o] are pronounced with similar tongue position, but the former is pronounced with compressed lip rounding while the latter is pronounced with protruded lip rounding ([ɯ̽ᵝ] and [ʊ] respectively).
  • The vowel pairs [a, ɐ], [ɛ, ɪ], [ɔ, ʊ] and [ø, ʏ] are each pronounced nearly identically ([ɐ], [e], [] and [ø] respectively) despite having different conventional transcriptions.
  • /j/ is pronounced [ɥ] before rounded vowels.
  • Many in younger generations diphthongize [e] and [ɤ] to [ei] and [ɤɯ].

The Middle Chinese [-ŋ] rimes are retained, while [-n] and [-m] are either retained as [-ŋ] or have disappeared in Shanghainese. Middle Chinese [-p -t -k] rimes have become glottal stops, [-ʔ].[21]


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).[22][16]:17

Five Shanghainese Citation Tones
with Middle Chinese Classifications
Ping () Shang () Qu () Ru ()
Yin (阴) 52 (T1) 34 (T2) 44ʔ (T4)
Yang (阳) 14 (T3) 24ʔ (T5)

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 [b d ɡ z v dʑ ʑ m n ɲ ŋ l ɦ], 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 /ʔ/. That is, both the yin–yang distinction and the ru tones are allophonic (dependent on syllabic structure). Shanghainese has only a two-way phonemic tone contrast,[23] falling vs rising, and then only in open syllables with voiceless initials.

Tone sandhi

Tone sandhi 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.

Left-Prominent Sandhi Tone Values
Tone One syllable Two syllables Three syllables Four syllables Five syllables
T1 52 55 22 55 44 22 55 44 33 22 55 44 33 33 22
T2 34 33 44 33 44 22 33 44 33 22 33 44 33 33 22
T3 14 11 44 11 44 11 11 44 33 11 11 44 33 22 11
T4 44 33 44 33 44 22 33 44 33 22 33 44 33 22 22
T5 24 11 24 11 11 24 11 22 22 24
22 44 33 11
11 11 11 11 24
22 44 33 22 11

As an example, in isolation, the two syllables of the word for China are pronounced with T1 and T4: /tsʊŋ˥˨/ and /kwəʔ˦/. However, when pronounced in combination, T1 from /tsʊŋ/ spreads over the compound resulting in the following pattern /tsʊŋ˥kwəʔ˨/. Similarly, the syllables in a common expression for foolish have the following underlying phonemic and tonal representations: /zəʔ˨˦/ (T5), /sɛ˥˨/ (T1), and /ti˧˦/ (T2). However, the syllables in combination exhibit the T5 shifting pattern where the first-syllable T5 shifts to the last syllable in the domain: /zəʔ˩sɛ˩ti˨˦/.[16]:38–46

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.[16]:46–47

Possible Left Syllable Tone Values in Right-Prominent Sandhi
Tone Underlying Tone Neutralized Tone
T1 52 44
T2 34 44
T3 14 33
T4 44 44
T5 24 22

For instance, when combined, /ma˩˦/ ("buy") and /tɕjɤ˧˦/ ("wine") become /ma˧tɕjɤ˧˦/ ("buy wine").

Sometimes meaning can change based on whether left-prominent or right-prominent sandhi is used. For example, /tsʰɔ˧˦/ ("fry") and /mi˩˦/ ("noodle") when pronounced /tsʰɔ˧mi˦/ (i.e., with left-prominent sandhi) means "fried noodles". When pronounced /tsʰɔ˦mi˩˦/ (i.e., with right-prominent sandhi), it means "to fry noodles".[16]:35

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 (中派上海话), pronunciation of those between 20 and 60 years old.

Translation IPA Chinese character Transliteration
Shanghainese (language) [zɑ̃.hɛ ɦɛ.ɦo] 上海闲话 or 上海言话(上海閒話 or 上海言話)
Shanghainese (people) [zɑ̃.hɛ.ɲɪɲ] 上海人
I [ŋu] 我、吾
we or I [ɐʔ.la] 阿拉)
he/she [ɦi] 渠(佢, 伊, 其)
they [ɦ] 渠拉(佢拉, 伊拉)
you (sing.) [nʊŋ] (儂)
you (plural) [na] 倷 (modern Mandarin-based approximation: 㑚)
hello [nʊŋ.hɔ] 侬好(儂好)
good-bye [tsɛ.ɦwe] 再会(再會)
thank you [ʑja.ja.nʊŋ] or [ʑja.ʑja.nʊŋ] 谢谢侬(謝謝儂)
sorry [te.vəʔ.tɕʰi] 对勿起(對勿起)
but, however [dɛ.z̩], [dɛ.z̩.ni] 但是, 但是呢
please [tɕʰɪɲ] (請)
that one [ɛ.tsa], [i.tsa] 埃只, 伊只(埃隻, 伊隻)
this one [ɡəʔ.tsa] 箇只(箇隻)
there [ɛ.ta], [i.ta] 埃𡍲, 伊𡍲
over there [ɛ.mi.ta], [i.mi.ta] 埃面𡍲, 伊面𡍲
here [ɡəʔ.ta] 搿𡍲
to have [ɦjɤ.təʔ] 有得
to exist, here, present [lɐʔ.hɛ] 徕許, 勒許
now, current [ɦi.zɛ] 现在(現在)
what time is it? [ɦi.zɛ tɕi.ti tsʊŋ] 现在几点钟?(現在幾點鐘?)
where [ɦ], [sa.di.fɑ̃] 何里𡍲(何裏𡍲), 啥地方
what [sa.ɦəʔ] 啥个
who [sa.ɲɪɲ] or [ɦɦwe] 啥人, 何里位
why [ɦ] 为啥(為啥)
when [sa.zən.kwɑ̃] 啥辰光
how [na.nən], [na.nən.ka] 哪能 (哪恁), 哪能介 (哪恁介)
how much? [tɕi.di] 几钿?(幾鈿?)
yes [ɛ]
no [m̩], [vəʔ.z̩], [m̩.məʔ], [vjɔ] 呒, 勿是, 呒没, 覅(嘸, 勿是, 嘸沒, 覅)
telephone number [di.ɦo ɦɔ.dɤ] 电话号头(電話號頭)
home [ʊʔ.li] 屋里(屋裏)
Come to our house and play. [tɔ ɐʔ.la ʊʔ.li.ɕjɑ̃ lɛ bəʔ.ɕjɐ̃] 到阿拉屋里向来孛相(白相)!(到阿拉屋裏向來孛相!)
Where's the restroom? [da.sɤ.kɛ ləʔ.ləʔ ɦ] 汏手间勒勒何里𡍲?(汏手間勒勒何裏𡍲?)
Have you eaten dinner? [ɦja.vɛ tɕʰɪʔ.ku.ləʔ va] 夜饭吃过了𠲎?(夜飯喫過了𠲎?)
I don't know [ŋu vəʔ.ɕjɔ.təʔ] 我勿晓得.(我勿曉得.)
Do you speak English? [nʊŋ ɪɲ.vən kɑ̃.təʔ.lɛ va] 侬英文讲得来𠲎?(儂英文講得來𠲎?)
I adore you [ŋu ɛ.mu nʊŋ] 我爱慕侬.(我愛慕儂!)
I like you a lot [ŋu lɔ hwø.ɕi nʊŋ əʔ] 我老欢喜侬个!(我老歡喜儂个)
news [ɕɪɲ.vən] 新闻(新聞)
dead [ɕi.tʰəʔ.ləʔ] 死脱了
alive [ɦwəʔ.ləʔ.hɛ] 活勒嗨(活着)
a lot [tɕjɔ.kwɛ] 交关
inside, within [li.ɕjɑ̃] 里向
outside [ŋa.dɤ] 外頭
How are you? [nʊŋ hɔ va] 侬好𠲎?(儂好𠲎?)

Literary and vernacular pronunciations

Pinyin English translation Literary Vernacular
jiā house tɕia˥˨ ka˥˨
yán face ɦiɪ˩˩˧ ŋʱɛ˩˩˧
yīng cherry ʔiŋ˥˨ ʔɐ̃˥˨
xiào filial piety ɕiɔ˧˧˥ hɔ˧˧˥
xué learning ʱjɐʔ˨ ʱʊʔ˨
thing vəʔ˨ mʱəʔ˨
wǎng web ʱwɑŋ˩˩˧ mʱɑŋ˩˩˧
fèng male phoenix voŋ˩˩˧ boŋ˩˩˧
féi fat vi˩˩˧ bi˩˩˧
sun zəʔ˨ ɲʱiɪʔ˨
rén person zən˩˩˧ ɲʱin˩˩˧
niǎo bird ʔɲiɔ˧˧˥ tiɔ˧˧˥

Plural pronouns

The first-person pronoun is suffixed with [ɲi˨˧] as in "我伲" [ŋu˨.ɲi˦], and third-person with [la˥˧]), but the second-person plural is a separate root, [nʌ˨˧].[24]


Shanghai Phonetic Symbols
A table of Shanghai Phonetic Symbols by Rev. J. A. Silsby

Chinese characters are used to write Shanghainese. Romanization of Shanghainese was first developed by Protestant English and American Christian missionaries in the 19th century, including Joseph Edkins.[25] Usage of this romanization system was mainly confined to translated Bibles 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.[26]

Shanghainese is sometimes written informally using homophones: "lemon" (níngméng), written 檸檬 in Standard Chinese, may be written (person-door) in Shanghainese; and "yellow" (; huáng) may be written (meaning king; and wáng 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 zuò in Standard Mandarin.[27]

Protestant missionaries in the 1800s created the Shanghainese Phonetic Symbols to write Shanghainese phonetically. The symbols are a syllabary similar to the Japanese Kana system. The system has not been used and is only seen in a few historical books.[28][29]

See also



  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Shanghainese". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ "Chinese languages". Archived from the original on February 20, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c China Newsweek Archived March 14, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Chinese Wikipedia page of Lao Niang Jiu 老娘舅, Wikipedia.
  5. ^ Yin Yeping (July 31, 2011). "60 years of Putonghua and English drown out local tongues". Global Times. Archived from the original on May 30, 2013.
  6. ^ Zat Liu (August 20, 2010). "Is Shanghai's local dialect, and culture, in crisis?". CNN GO. Archived from the original on September 3, 2011. Retrieved June 5, 2011.
  7. ^ "Call goes out: Language, please". Shanghai Daily. April 6, 2010. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011.
  8. ^ "Shanghai struggles to save disappearing dialect". CNN GO. November 22, 2010. Archived from the original on November 25, 2010. Retrieved January 18, 2011.
  9. ^ Tiffany Ap (November 18, 2010). "That ain't Shanghainese you're speaking". shanghaiist. Archived from the original on March 28, 2012. Retrieved September 30, 2011.
  10. ^ Tracy You (June 3, 2010). "Word wizard: The man bringing Shanghainese back to the people". CNN GO. Archived from the original on August 8, 2010. Retrieved January 18, 2011.
  11. ^ Tracy You (July 26, 2010). "Eheart Chen: Shanghai's modern rocker with a nostalgic soul". CNN GO. Archived from the original on July 31, 2010. Retrieved January 18, 2011.
  12. ^ Ni Dandan (May 16, 2011). "Dialect faces death threat". Global Times. Archived from the original on May 21, 2011. Retrieved June 5, 2011. we arranged Shanghai Day on Fridays to promote the language and local culture
  13. ^ Jia Feishang (May 13, 2011). "Stopping the local dialect becoming derelict". Shanghai Daily. Archived from the original on February 12, 2017. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  14. ^ Miranda Shek (February 2, 2011). "Local dialect in danger of vanishing". Global Times. Archived from the original on November 6, 2011. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  15. ^ Liang Yiwen (May 30, 2011). "14 Shanghainese selected for dialect recording". Shanghai Daily. Archived from the original on September 11, 2012. Retrieved September 30, 2011.
  16. ^ a b c d e f Zhu, Xiaonong (2006). A Grammar of Shanghai Wu. Lincom.
  17. ^ Ladefoged, Peter, Maddieson, Ian. The Sounds of the World's Languages. Wiley-Blackwell, 1996, p. 64-66.
  18. ^ Zhu, Xiaonong S. Shanghai Tonetics. Lincom Europa, 1999, p. 12.
  19. ^ a b c Chen & Gussenhoven (2015)
  20. ^ Zhu, Xiaonong S. Shanghai Tonetics. Lincom Europa, 1999, p. 14-17.
  21. ^ Svantesson, Jan-Olof. "Shanghai Vowels," Lund University, Department of Linguistics, Working Papers, 35:191-202
  22. ^ Chen, Zhongmin. Studies in Dialects in the Shanghai Area. Lincom Europa, 2003, p. 74.
  23. ^ Introduction to Shanghainese. Pronunciation (Part 3 - Tones and Pitch Accent) Archived March 1, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ Graham Thurgood, Randy J. LaPolla (2003). Graham Thurgood, Randy J. LaPolla (ed.). The Sino-Tibetan languages. Volume 3 of Routledge language family series (illustrated ed.). Psychology Press. p. 86. ISBN 0-7007-1129-5. Retrieved March 10, 2012.
  25. ^ Edkins, Joseph (1853). Grammar of the Shanghai Dialect.
  26. ^
  27. ^ Wm. V. Hannas (1997). Asia's orthographic dilemma. University of Hawaii Press. p. 20. ISBN 0-8248-1892-X. Retrieved December 8, 2011. Non-Mandarin speakers take their own shortcuts, such as 王 (Shanghai) wang "king" for 黃 wang "yellow" (pronounced Huáng in Mandarin) or 人門 (Shanghai) ningmeng (lit.) "person" and "door" for 檸檬 ningmeng "lemon," not to mention hundreds of unique forms and usages devised popularly that have no application to Mandarin at all. There is nothing new about this phenomenon. For at least two millennia, there have been two orthographies in China: the one formally sanctioned by lexicographers and the state, and a popular tradition used informally by people in their everyday lives.()
  28. ^ "December - 2012 - SERICA". Archived from the original on December 20, 2014.
  29. ^ Lodwick, Kathleen L. (May 10, 1868). "The Chinese recorder". Shanghai [etc.] T. Chu [etc.] Archived from the original on May 13, 2016 – via Internet Archive.


  • Lance Eccles, Shanghai dialect: an introduction to speaking the contemporary language. Dunwoody Press, 1993. ISBN 1-881265-11-0. 230 pp + cassette. (An introductory course in 29 units).
  • Xiaonong Zhu, A Grammar of Shanghai Wu. LINCOM Studies in Asian Linguistics 66, LINCOM Europa, Munich, 2006. ISBN 3-89586-900-7. 201+iv pp.

Further reading

External links

Chinese Sign Language

Modern Chinese Sign Language (or CSL or ZGS; simplified Chinese: 中国手语; traditional Chinese: 中國手語; pinyin: Zhōngguó Shǒuyǔ) is the deaf sign language of the People's Republic of China. It is unrelated to Taiwanese Sign Language.

The first deaf school using Chinese Sign Language was created by Nellie Thompson Mills, the wife of American missionary C.R. Mills, in the year 1887. However, American Sign Language (ASL) did not influence Chinese Sign Language (CSL) much. Schools, workshops and farms in different areas for the Deaf are the main ways that CSL has been able to spread in China so well. Other Deaf who are not connected to these gathering places tend to use sets of gestures developed in their own homes, known as home sign.

The Chinese National Association of the Deaf (ROC) was created by the Deaf People mostly from the United States. The biggest reason for the organization of the Deaf in China was to raise quality of living for the Deaf which was behind the quality of living standards provided for the other disabled. The members of the ROC worked together to better the welfare of the Deaf, to encourage education of Deaf and Chinese Sign Language, and to promote the Deaf Community in China.

Chinese people in Israel

Chinese people in Israel comprise several separate groups, including the groups of Jews from China who have immigrated to Israel making aliyah, as well as foreign students studying in Israeli universities, businessmen, merchants, and guest workers, along with Israeli citizens of Chinese ancestry.

Chloe Bennet

Chloe Wang (born April 18, 1992), known professionally as Chloe Bennet, is an American actress and singer. She is known for her role as Daisy "Skye" Johnson / Quake on the television series Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013–present) and the animated series Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors.

Daniel Wu

Daniel Wu Yan-Zu (Chinese: 吳彥祖; pinyin: Wú Yànzǔ; born September 30, 1974) is an American-born Hong Kong actor, director and producer who stars in the AMC martial arts drama series Into the Badlands. Since his film debut in 1998, he has been featured in over 60 films. He is known as a "flexible and distinctive" leading actor in the Chinese language film industry.


Haipai (Chinese: 海派, Shanghainese: hepha, [hē̞pʰä́] ; literally "[Shang]hai style") refers to the avant-garde but unique "East Meets West" culture from Shanghai (上海) in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Jimmy O. Yang

Jimmy O. Yang (Chinese: 歐陽萬成; born on June 11, 1987) is a Chinese American actor, stand-up comedian and writer best known for starring as Jian-Yang in the HBO comedy series Silicon Valley.

Luwan District

Luwan District (simplified Chinese: 卢湾区; traditional Chinese: 盧灣區; literally: 'Lu's Bay'; Shanghainese: lu1uae1 chiu1, pinyin: Lúwān Qū), formerly romanized as Lokawei, was a district located in central Shanghai until its merger with Huangpu District in June 2011. It had an area of 8.05 km2 (3.11 sq mi) and population of 350,000 as of 2001.

Phoebe Cates

Phoebe Belle Cates (born July 16, 1963) is an American former film actress, singer and model known primarily for her roles in several 1980s films, most notably Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Gremlins.


Shanghai (Chinese: 上海, Mandarin pronunciation: [ʂâŋ.xài] (listen); Shanghainese pronunciation: [zɑ̃.hɛ] (listen)) is one of the four municipalities under the direct administration of the central government of the People's Republic of China, the largest city in China by population, and the largest city proper in the world, with a population of 26.3 million as of 2019. It is a global financial center and transport hub, with the world's busiest container port. Located in the Yangtze River Delta, it sits on the south edge of the estuary of the Yangtze in the middle portion of the Eastern China coast. The municipality borders the provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang to the south, east and west, and is bound to the east by the East China Sea.As a major administrative, shipping and trading city, Shanghai grew in importance in the 19th century due to trade and recognition of its favorable port location and economic potential. The city was one of five treaty ports forced open to foreign trade following the British victory over China in the First Opium War. The subsequent 1842 Treaty of Nanking and 1844 Treaty of Whampoa allowed the establishment of the Shanghai International Settlement and the French Concession. The city then flourished as a centre of commerce between China and other parts of the world (predominantly the Occident), and became the primary financial hub of the Asia-Pacific region in the 1930s. During World War II, the city was the site of the major Battle of Shanghai. After the war, with the CCP takeover of mainland China in 1949, trade was limited to other socialist countries, and the city's global influence declined. In the 1990s, the economic reforms introduced by Deng Xiaoping resulted in an intense re-development of the city, aiding the return of finance and foreign investment to the city. It has since re-emerged as a hub for international trade and finance; it is the home of the Shanghai Stock Exchange, one of the world's largest by market capitalization.Shanghai has been described as the "showpiece" of the booming economy of mainland China; renowned for its Lujiazui skyline, and museums and historic buildings, such as those along The Bund, as well as the City God Temple and the Yu Garden.

Shanghai Hongqiao railway station

Shanghai Hongqiao (simplified Chinese: 上海虹桥站; traditional Chinese: 上海虹橋站; pinyin: Shànghǎi Hóngqiáo Zhàn; Shanghainese: Zånhae œnjiohzaen) is one of the four major railway stations in Shanghai, China, the others being Shanghai railway station, Shanghai South railway station and Shanghai West railway station. With a total area of 1.3 million square meters, it is the largest railway station in Asia.Shanghai Hongqiao railway station, located in Minhang District of Shanghai, is a major part of the Hongqiao Comprehensive Transportation Hub (“the Hongqiao hub”). The station is next to Terminal 2 of Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and lines 2, 10, and 17 of Shanghai Metro.

Shanghai cuisine

Shanghai cuisine (上海菜), also known as Hu cuisine (滬菜), is a popular style of Chinese food. In a narrow sense, Shanghai cuisine refers only to what is traditionally called Benbang cuisine (本帮菜; Běnbāng cài; 'local cuisine') which originated in Shanghai; in a broad sense, it refers to complex and developed styles of cooking under profound influence of those of the surrounding provinces, Jiangsu and Zhejiang. It takes "colour, aroma and taste" as its elements, like other Chinese regional cuisines, and emphasises in particular the use of seasonings, the quality of raw ingredients and original flavours.

Shanghai opera

Shanghai opera is a variety of Chinese opera from Shanghai, typically sung in Shanghainese. It is not to be confused with other Chinese opera genres popular in Shanghai, especially Yue opera. Unlike most forms of Chinese opera, Shanghai operas are typically set in the modern era, especially the Republican period.

Huju is particularly popular in Baihe, the oldest town in the Qingpu District of Shanghai. There are eight to ten huju ensembles in the Baihe, and many local residents hire these ensembles to perform for weddings and funerals.Huju is accompanied by traditional Chinese instruments, including dizi (transverse bamboo flute), erhu (two-stringed fiddle), pipa (pear-shaped lute), yangqin (hammered dulcimer), and percussion. The instrumentation and style are closely related to the instrumental genre of Jiangnan sizhu.

The well-known Chinese composition "Purple Bamboo Melody" (紫竹调; 紫竹調) has been adapted and used for huju.

Shanghai railway station

Shanghai station (simplified Chinese: 上海火车站; traditional Chinese: 上海火車站; pinyin: Shànghǎi Huǒchēzhàn; Shanghainese: Zånhae Hutsuzae) is one of the four major railway stations in Shanghai, China, the others being Shanghai South, Shanghai Hongqiao, and Shanghai West (Shanghaixi).

The station is located on Moling Road, Jing'an District, to the North of the city centre. It is governed by Shanghai Railway Bureau and is one of the most important hubs of the railway network in China.

Shanghainese people

The Shanghainese people (Chinese: 上海人, Shanghainese: Zaanhaening, [zɑ̃.hé.ɲɪɲ]; p Shànghǎirén) are the natives of the City of Shanghai.

The Old City of Shanghai was a minor settlement until the later Qing Dynasty and many districts of the present municipality of Shanghai originally had separate identities, including separate but related dialects of Taihu Wu. In recent decades, millions of Chinese have moved to the city, both as internal immigrants and as migrant workers. The 2010 Chinese census found 9 million of Shanghai's 23 million residents (almost 40%) were migrants without a Shanghai hukou, triple the number from the year 2000 census. These "New Shanghainese" (新上海人) are generally distinguished from the Shanghainese proper as they usually do not speak the Shanghainese language or have it as their ancestral home.

Shanghainese people in Hong Kong

Shanghainese people in Hong Kong have played an important role in Hong Kong since 1949.

Terence Tao

Terence Chi-Shen Tao (born 17 July 1975) is an Australian-American mathematician who has worked in various areas of mathematics. He currently focuses on harmonic analysis, partial differential equations, algebraic combinatorics, arithmetic combinatorics, geometric combinatorics, compressed sensing and analytic number theory. As of 2015, he holds the James and Carol Collins chair in mathematics at the University of California, Los Angeles. Tao was a recipient of the 2006 Fields Medal and the 2014 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics.

He is the second ethnic Chinese person to win the Fields medal after Shing-Tung Yau, and the first Australian mathematician to win the Fields medal.

Wu Chinese

Wu (Shanghainese: [ɦu˨ ɲy˦]; Suzhou dialect: [ɦoʊ˨ ɲy˦]; Wuxi dialect: [ŋ˨˨˧ nʲy˨], Changzhou dialect) is a group of linguistically similar and historically related varieties of Chinese primarily spoken in the whole city of Shanghai, Zhejiang province and the southern half of Jiangsu province, as well as bordering areas.

Major Wu varieties include those of Shanghai, Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou, Ningbo, Hangzhou, Shaoxing, Wenzhou/Oujiang, Jinhua and Yongkang. Wu speakers, such as Chiang Kai-shek, Lu Xun and Cai Yuanpei, occupied positions of great importance in modern Chinese culture and politics. Wu can also be found being used in Pingtan, Yue opera, and Shanghai opera, the former which is second only in national popularity to Peking opera; as well as in the performances of the popular entertainer and comedian Zhou Libo. Wu is also spoken in a large number of diaspora communities, with significant centers of immigration originating from Shanghai, Ningbo, Qingtian and Wenzhou.

Suzhou has traditionally been the linguistic center of Wu and was likely the first place the distinct variety of Sinitic known as Wu developed. Suzhou dialect is widely considered to be the most linguistically representative of the family. It was mostly the basis of the Wu lingua franca that developed in Shanghai leading to the formation of standard Shanghainese, which as a center of economic power and possessing the largest population of Wu speakers, has attracted the most attention. Due to the influence of Shanghainese, Wu as a whole is incorrectly labelled in English as simply, "Shanghainese", when introducing the language family to non-specialists. Wu is the more accurate terminology for the greater grouping that the Shanghainese variety is part of; other less precise terms include "Jiangnan speech" (江南話), "Jiangzhe (Jiangsu–Zhejiang) speech" (江浙話), and less commonly "Wuyue speech" (吳越語).

The Wu group (Southern Wu in particular) is well-known among linguists and sinologists as being one of the most internally diverse among the Sinitic groups, with very little mutual intelligibility between varieties across subgroups. Among speakers of other Sinitic languages, Wu is often subjectively judged to be soft, light, and flowing. There is an idiom in Mandarin that specifically describes these qualities of Wu speech: 吴侬软语, which literally means "the tender speech of Wu". On the other hand, some Wu varieties like Wenzhounese have gained notoriety for their high incomprehensibility to both Wu and non-Wu speakers alike, so much so that Wenzhounese was used during the Second World War to avoid Japanese interception.Wu dialects are typified linguistically as having preserved the voiced initials of Middle Chinese, having a majority of Middle Chinese tones undergo a register split, and preserving a checked tone typically terminating in a glottal stop, although some dialects maintain the tone without the stop and certain dialects of Southern Wu have undergone or are starting to undergo a process of devoicing. The historical relations which determine Wu classification primarily consist in two main factors: firstly, geography, both in terms of physical geography and distance south or away from Mandarin, that is, Wu varieties are part of a Wu–Min dialect continuum from southern Jiangsu to Fujian and Chaoshan. The second factor is the drawing of historical administrative boundaries, which, in addition to physical barriers, limit mobility and in the majority of cases more or less determine the boundary of a Wu dialect.

Wu Chinese, along with Min, is also of great significance to historical linguists due to their retention of many ancient features. These two languages have proven pivotal in determining the phonetic history of the Chinese languages.

More pressing concerns of the present are those of language preservation. Many within and outside of China fear that the increased usage of Mandarin may eventually altogether supplant the languages that have no written form, legal protection, or official status and are officially barred from use in public discourse. However, many analysts believe that a stable state of diglossia will endure for at least several generations if not indefinitely.


Xiaolongbao is a type of Chinese steamed bun (baozi) from the Jiangnan region, especially associated with Shanghai and Wuxi. It is traditionally prepared in Xiaolong, which is a kind of small bamboo steaming basket, which give them their name. Xiaolongbao is often referred to as a kind of "dumpling", but should not be confused with British or American-style dumplings, nor with Chinese jiaozi.

They are also called a "soup dumpling" because they are filled with hot soup and must be eaten carefully. In Shanghainese, they are also sometimes known as siaulon moedeu or xiaolong-style mantous as Wu Chinese speaking peoples use the traditional definition of "mantou" which refers to both filled and unfilled buns.


Xintiandi (Chinese: 新天地; pinyin: Xīntiāndì, Shanghainese: Shintidi lit. "New Heaven and Earth", fig. "New World") is an affluent car-free shopping, eating and entertainment district of Shanghai. Xintiandi now refers to the wider area centered around Madang Road which includes both pedestrian-only and motor traffic roads.

Standard Mandarin
Hanyu PinyinShànghǎihuà
Zaanhe Hhehho
[z̥ɑ̃̀hé ɦɛ̀ɦò]
Standard Mandarin
Hanyu PinyinHùyǔ
Administrative divisions
Culture and demographics
Places of worship
Sports venues
Set phrase
Input method

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