Beijing Mandarin
北京官話 / 北京官话
Běijīng Guānhuà
PronunciationBeijing dialect: [pèɪtɕíŋ kwánxwâ]
RegionBeijing, Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Liaoning and Tianjin
Native speakers
27 million (2004)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3
ISO 639-6bjgh
Glottologbeij1235  Beijingic

In Chinese dialectology, Beijing Mandarin (simplified Chinese: 北京官话; traditional Chinese: 北京官話; pinyin: Běijīng Guānhuà) refers to a major branch of Mandarin Chinese recognized by the Language Atlas of China, encompassing a number of dialects spoken in areas of Beijing, Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Liaoning, and Tianjin,[1] the most important of which is the Beijing dialect, which provides the phonological basis for Standard Chinese. Both Beijing Mandarin and its Beijing dialect are also called Beijingese.


See also: Mandarin Chinese § Classification

Beijing Mandarin and Northeastern Mandarin were proposed by Chinese linguist Li Rong as two separate branches of Mandarin in the 1980s.[2] In Li's 1985 paper, he suggested using tonal reflexes of Middle Chinese checked tone characters as the criterion for classifying Mandarin dialects.[3] In this paper, he used the term "Beijing Mandarin" (北京官话) to refer the dialect group in which checked tone characters with a voiceless initial have dark level, light level, rising and departing tone reflexes.[3] He chose the name Beijing Mandarin as this Mandarin group is approximate to the Beijing dialect.[4]

He subsequently proposed a split of Beijing Mandarin and Northeastern Mandarin in 1987, listing the following as reasons:[5][6]

The 2012 edition of Language Atlas of China added one more method for distinguishing Beijing Mandarin from Northeastern Mandarin:[7]

Meanwhile, there are some scholars who regard Beijing Mandarin and Northeastern Mandarin as a single division of Mandarin. Lin (1987) noticed the phonological similarity between Beijing Mandarin and Northeastern Mandarin.[8] Zhang (2010) suggested that the criteria for the division of Beijing Mandarin and Northeastern Mandarin as top-level Mandarin groups are inconsistent with the criterion for the division of other top-level Mandarin groups.[9]


Beijing Mandarin is classified into the following subdivisions in the 2012 edition of Language Atlas of China:[10]

Per the 2012 edition of Atlas, these subgroups are distinguished by the following features:[1]

Compared with the first edition (1987), the second edition (2012) of the Atlas demoted Jīngshī and Huái–Chéng subgroups to clusters of a new Jīng–Chéng subgroup. Shí–Kè (石克) or Běijiāng (北疆) subgroup (including the cities of Shihezi and Karamay), listed as a subgroup of Beijing Mandarin in the 1987 edition, is re-allocated to a Běijiāng (北疆) subgroup of Lanyin Mandarin and a Nánjiāng (南疆) subgroup of Central Plains Mandarin. The Cháo–Fēng subgroup covers a greater area in the 2012 edition.[12]

Phonological features


With regard to initials, the reflexes of kaikou hu syllables with any of the 影, 疑, 云 and 以 initials in Middle Chinese differ amongst the subgroups: a null initial is found in the Jīngshī cluster, while /n/ or /ŋ/ initials are often present in the Huái–Chéng cluster and the Cháo–Fēng subgroup.[1][13]

Initial in Middle Chinese ►
Subdivision Location / / /
Jingshi Beijing
Huai–Cheng Chengde[14] n n n n n
Chao–Feng Chifeng[15]
ŋ ŋ n

Dental and retroflex sibilants are distinct phonemes in Beijing Mandarin.[5] This is contrary to Northeastern Mandarin, in which the two categories are either in free variation or merged into a single type of sibilants.[5]


In both Beijing Mandarin and Northeastern Mandarin, the checked tone of Middle Chinese has completely dissolved and is distributed irregularly[16] among the remaining tones.[17] However, Beijing Mandarin has significantly fewer rising-tone characters with a checked-tone origin, compared with Northeastern Mandarin.[18]

Subdivision Location / [19]
Beijing Mandarin Beijing dark level light level departing
Northeastern Mandarin Harbin rising rising rising

The Cháo–Fēng subgroup generally has a lower tonal value for the dark level tone.[1]

Tones of Beijing Mandarin dialects
Subdivision Location Dark level Light level Rising Departing Ref.
Jingshi Beijing ˥ (55) ˧˥ (35) ˨˩˦ (214) ˥˩ (51) [20]
Huai–Cheng Chengde ˥ (55) ˧˥ (35) ˨˩˦ (214) ˥˩ (51) [20]
Chao–Feng Chifeng ˦ (44) ˧˧˥ (335) ˨˩˧ (213) ˥˧ (53) [21]
Xingcheng ˦ (44) ˧˥ (35) ˨˩˧ (213) ˥˩ (51) [21]
Taiwanese Taipei ˦ (44) ˧˨˧ (323) ˧˩˨ (312) ˥˨ (52) [22]
Taichung ˦ (33) ˧˨˨ (322) ˧˩ (31) ˦˨ (32) [23]

Lexical features

The Cháo–Fēng subgroup has more words in common with that of Northeastern Mandarin.[11]

this place to envy to deceive to show off;
to brag
dirty to do
MSC 地方 / 地方 嫉妒 騙人 / 骗人 炫耀 /
Chao–Feng 圪墶 / 圪垯 眼氣 / 眼气 忽悠 得瑟 埋汰

The intensifier is also used in the Cháo–Fēng subgroup.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (2012), p. 42.
  2. ^ Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (2012), p. 41.
  3. ^ a b Li (1985), p. 3, 4.
  4. ^ Li (1989), p. 247.
  5. ^ a b c Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (2012), p. 40.
  6. ^ Li (1989), p. 246.
  7. ^ Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (2012), p. 35, 40, 41.
  8. ^ Lin (1987), p. 166–167.
  9. ^ Zhang (2010), p. 45.
  10. ^ Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (2012), p. 42 - 43.
  11. ^ a b c Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (2012), p. 37.
  12. ^ Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (2012), p. 11.
  13. ^ Hou (2002), p. 18.
  14. ^ There are also other ways to pronounce such initials in this dialect. (Zhang 2010, p. 79)
  15. ^ There are also other ways to pronounce such initials in this dialect. (Zhang 2010, p. 79)
  16. ^ Zhang (2010), p. 180.
  17. ^ Hou (2002), p. 17.
  18. ^ Hou (2002), p. 19.
  19. ^ Referring to its checked-toned pronunciation, as in 質量 / 质量.
  20. ^ a b Hou (2002), p. 38.
  21. ^ a b Zhang (2010), p. 33.
  22. ^ Multiple sources:
    • Fon, Yee-Jean (1999). "What Does Chao Have to Say about Tones? A Case Study of Taiwan Mandarin". AH.
    • 石, 鋒; 鄧, 丹 (2006). "普通話與台灣國語的語音對比" (PDF). 山高水長:丁邦新先生七秩壽慶論文集: 371–393.
    • Sanders, Robert (2008). "Tonetic Sound Change in Taiwan Mandarin: The Case of Tone 2 and Tone 3 Citation Contours" (PDF). Proceedings of the 20th North American Conference on Chinese Linguistics (NACCL-20). 1: 87–107.
  23. ^ 慧如(Khoo, Hui-lu) 許 (2020). "「台中腔」-台灣中部華語的聲調特徵及其成因初探". Taiwan Journal of Linguistics. 18 (1): 115–157. doi:10.6519/TJL.202001_18(1).0004. ISSN 1729-4649.