Northeastern Mandarin
Native toJilin, Heilongjiang, Liaoning and Inner Mongolia provinces of China; (Overseas, United States-New York City, Russia-primarily in Primorsky Krai)
RegionNortheast China, Russian Far East (Taz)
Native speakers
(82 million cited 1987)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3
ISO 639-6dbiu

Northeastern Mandarin (simplified Chinese: 东北话; traditional Chinese: 東北話; pinyin: Dōngběihuà; lit. 'Northeast Speech' or 东北官话/東北官話 Dōngběiguānhuà "Northeast Mandarin") is the subgroup of Mandarin varieties spoken in Northeast China with the exception of the Liaodong Peninsula and few enclaves along Amur and Ussuri rivers. The classification of Northeastern Mandarin as a separate dialect group from Beijing Mandarin was first proposed by Li Rong, author of the Language Atlas of China, in 1989. However, many researchers do not accept the distinction.[2]

Geographical distribution

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources in this section. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (December 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Northeastern Mandarin varieties are spoken in the northeastern part of China, in the provinces of Liaoning (except its southern part from Dalian to Dandong where Jiaoliao Mandarin is spoken), Jilin and Heilongjiang, and in some northern parts of Inner Mongolia.[3] The number of speakers was estimated in 1987 as 82 million.[1]


The Language Atlas of China divided Northeastern Mandarin into three subgroups, following a classification be Hè Wēi based on the occurrence of nasal initials in words having a zero initial in Beijing:[3][4][5]

More distant varieties tend to be more similar to the Beijing dialect than closer ones, so that the speech of Harbin is closer to that of Beijing than that of Jilin and Changchun, which in turn are closer than that of Shenyang.[6]

A form of Northeastern Mandarin (with some words from Udege and Nanai) has been spoken since approximately 1800 by the Taz people nearby in the Russian Far East, primarily in Primorsky Krai.[7]

Overseas, Northeastern Mandarin is spoken in increasingly larger communities in New York City Chinatowns/Flushing in the United States.


Northeastern Mandarin shares similarities with the Beijing dialect, such as a similar development of the entering tone and the preservation of initial [w], where the dialects of Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, have [v].[6] However, in northeastern Chinese, final -ian or -üan is pronounced with an [æ] rather than with [ɛ] or [e] as in the standard.[8] The [ʐ] initial of Beijing (spelled r- in pinyin) is generally elided in northeastern varieties.[9][10]

Cultural and regional identity

Mandarin variants like Northeastern Mandarin often contribute to a strong regional identity. Because of its informal usage of words and tones, comedians often use Northeast dialects when performing. Comedian Zhao Benshan is recognized nationwide for his performances which make humorous use of Northeastern dialect and Northeastern Errenzhuan folk dance and song traditions.[11]


  1. ^ a b Yan (2006), p. 62.
  2. ^ Zhang, Shifang 张世方 (2010). Běijīng Guānhuà yǔyīn yánjiū 北京官话语音研究 (in Chinese). Beijing yuyan daxue chubanshe. p. 45. ISBN 9787561927755.
  3. ^ a b Wurm et al. (1987), Map B1.
  4. ^ Kurpaska (2010), p. 64.
  5. ^ Simmons (2016), p. 70.
  6. ^ a b Li (2004), p. 101.
  7. ^ "Russian Census 2010: Population by ethnicity". Gosudarstvennyi komitet po statistike. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  8. ^ Li (2004), p. 115.
  9. ^ Wurm et al. (1987), B1.
  10. ^ Kurpaska (2010), p. 90.
  11. ^ Liu (2011), p. 74.

Works cited

  • Kurpaska, Maria (2010), Chinese Language(s): A Look Through the Prism of "The Great Dictionary of Modern Chinese Dialects", Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, ISBN 978-3-11-021914-2.
  • Li, Chris Wen-Chao (2004), "Conflicting Notions of Language Purity: The Interplay of Archaising, Ethnographic, Reformist, Elitist and Xenophobic Purism in the Perception of Standard Chinese", Language & Communication, 24 (2): 97–133, doi:10.1016/j.langcom.2003.09.002.
  • Liu, Jin (2011), "Deviant Writing and Youth Identity: Representation of Dialects with Chinese Characters on the Internet", Chinese Language and Discourse, 2 (1): 58–79, doi:10.1075/cld.2.1.03liu.
  • Simmons, Richard VanNess (2016), "The Dōngbĕi Varieties of Mandarin", Journal of Asian Pacific Communication, 26 (1): 56–80, doi:10.1075/japc.26.1.03van.
  • Wurm, Stephen Adolphe; Li, Rong; Baumann, Theo; Lee, Mei W. (1987), Language Atlas of China, Hong Kong: Longman, ISBN 978-962-359-085-3.
  • Yan, Margaret Mian (2006), Introduction to Chinese Dialectology, Munich: LINCOM Europa, ISBN 978-3-89586-629-6.