Native toChina
RegionLinxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture (approximating the former Hezhou Prefecture), Gansu Province
Uyghur-based creole, or Uyghur–Mandarin mixed language
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)

Hezhou (Chinese 河州话 Hézhōuhuà) is a creolized mixed language spoken in Gansu Province, China. It has been the lingua franca of Linxia (formerly Hezhou) for several centuries. It is based on Uyghur and perhaps Salar. It has been relexified by Mandarin Chinese, so that nearly all roots are of Chinese origin, but grammatically it remains a Turkic language, with six noun cases, agglutinative morphology and an SOV word order. Grammatical suffixes are either Turkic or Chinese in origin; in the latter case they have been divorced from their original function and bear little to no relation to Chinese semantics. The phonology is largely Chinese, with three tones, though Hezhou tone sandhi is unusual from a Chinese perspective.[1] It may be that Hezhou tone differs between ethnic Chinese, Hui, Dongxiang and Bao'an speakers, though there is no indication that such differences occur among native speakers.[2]

Hezhou was once thought to be a Chinese language that had undergone heavy Turkic influence with an ongoing loss of tone; it is now believed to be the opposite, with tone acquisition perhaps ongoing.[1]


Hezhou language began to form in the Yuan dynasty.[3] In that time, a large number of Altaic language speakers (mainly Mongolian and Turkic) entered the Hezhou area, and some elements of those Altaic languages were mixed with Mandarin Chinese. Studies suggest that Hezhou was also influenced by the Tibetan and Monguor languages.[4]

Starting in the late 1970s, linguists began to research the Hezhou language. It is unknown if the language was studied before that.


  1. ^ a b Mei Lee-Smith (1996) "The Hezhou language", in Wurm et al. (eds) Atlas of Languages of Intercultural Communication in the Pacific, Asia, and the Americas, pp 865–874.
  2. ^ Dillon (2013) China's Muslim Hui Community: Migration, Settlement and Sects, p. 160.
  3. ^ Luo, Peng (2004). "河州话语法-语言接触的结果". Northwestern Normal University Journal: Social Sciences Edition: 30–32.
  4. ^ Kawasumi, Tetsuya. "On the Formative Process of the Hezhou Dialect of Chinese" (PDF). Diversity and Dynamics of Eurasian Languages: The 20th Commemorative Volume.