Pinghua written in Chinese characters
Native toChina, Vietnam
EthnicityHan, Zhuang, San Chay
Native speakers
7+ million (2016)[1]
  • Northern Pinghua
  • Southern Pinghua
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
cnp – Northern
csp – Southern
Glottologping1245  Northern and Southern
nort3268  Northern
sout3250  Southern
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese平話
Simplified Chinese平话
Cantonese YalePìhng Wá
Hanyu PinyinPínghuà
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese廣西平話
Simplified Chinese广西平话
Cantonese YaleGwóngsāi Pìhng Wá
Hanyu PinyinGuǎngxī Pínghuà
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Pinghua[a] refers to various Sinitic language varieties spoken mainly in parts of Guangxi, with some speakers in Hunan. Pinghua is a trade language in some areas of Guangxi, spoken as a second language by speakers of Zhuang languages. Some speakers are officially classified as Zhuang, and many are genetically distinct from most other Han Chinese.[2] The northern subgroup is centered on Guilin and the southern subgroup around Nanning. The Southern dialect has several notable features such as having four distinct checked tones, and using various loanwords from the Zhuang languages, such as the final particle wei for imperative sentences.


Language surveys in Guangxi during the 1950s recorded varieties of Chinese that had been included in the Yue dialect group but were different from those in Guangdong. Pinghua was designated as a separate dialect group from Yue by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in the 1980s[3]: 15  and since then has been treated as a separate dialect in textbooks and surveys.[4]

Since designation as a separate dialect group, Pinghua has been the focus of increased research. In 2008 a report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences of research into Chinese varieties noted an increase in research papers and surveys of Pinghua, from 7 before the 1987 publication of the Language Atlas of China based on the revised classification, and about 156 between then and 2004.[5]

In the 1980s the number of speakers was listed as over 2 million;[3]: 21  and by 2016 as 7 million.[6]


Pinghua is generally divided into two mutually unintelligible languages:[7]

The Zheyuan people of Funing County, Yunnan speak a form of Pinghua. They are located in Dongbo and Guichao, and they migrated from Nanning.


Nanning Pinghua has a voiceless lateral fricative [ɬ] for Middle Chinese /s/ or /z/, for example in the numbers /ɬam/ "three" and /ɬi/ "four".[10][11] This is unlike Standard Cantonese but like some other Yue varieties such as Taishanese.


Southern Pinghua has six contrasting tones in open syllables, and four in checked syllables,[12] as found in neighbouring Yue varieties such as the Bobai dialect.

Tones of Nanning Pinghua
Tone name Level
52 [˥˨] 33 [˧] 55 [˥] 5 [˥]
3 [˧]
21 [˨˩] 24 [˨˦] 22 [˨] 23 [˨˧]
2 [˨]

The split of the lower entering tone is determined by the initial consonant, with the low rising contour occurring after sonorant initials.[13]

Genetic profile

Genetically, Pinghua speakers have more in common with non-Han ethnic groups in southern China, as opposed to other Han groups.[2]


  1. ^ simplified Chinese: 平话; traditional Chinese: 平話; pinyin: Pínghuà; Cantonese Yale: Pìhng Wá; sometimes disambiguated as 广西平话; 廣西平話


  1. ^ Chappell, Hilary; Li, Lan (2016). "Mandarin and Other Sinitic Languages". In Chan, Sin-Wai (ed.). The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Chinese Language. Oxon: Routledge. pp. 605–628. ISBN 978-1-317-38249-2.
  2. ^ a b Gan, Rui-Jing; Pan, Shang-Ling; Mustavich, Laura F.; et al. (2008). "Pinghua Population as an Exception of Han Chinese's Coherent Genetic Structure". Journal of Human Genetics. 53 (4): 303–313. doi:10.1007/s10038-008-0250-x. PMID 18270655.
  3. ^ a b Hsing, Fu-I 邢福义 (1991). Xiàndài Hànyǔ 现代汉语 [Modern Chinese] (in Chinese). Beijing: Gaodeng jiaoyu chubanshe. ISBN 7-04-002652-X.
  4. ^ Kurpaska, Maria (2010). Chinese Language(s): A Look Through the Prism of "The Great Dictionary of Modern Chinese Dialects". Walter de Gruyter. pp. 55–56, 76. ISBN 978-3-11-021914-2.
  5. ^ "[cass report by 王宏宇]" (in Simplified Chinese).[dead link] April 2008
  6. ^ Yu, Jin 余瑾 (2016). Guǎngxī Pínghuà yánjiū 广西平话研究 (in Chinese). Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe. p. 24. ISBN 978-7-5161-8896-5.
  7. ^ Chappell, Hilary; Li, Lan (2016). "Mandarin and Other Sinitic Languages". In Chan, Sin-Wai (ed.). The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Chinese Language. Oxon: Routledge. p. 624. ISBN 978-1-317-38249-2.
  8. ^ de Sousa, Hilário (2016). "Language contact in Nanning: Nanning Pinghua and Nanning Cantonese". In Chappell, Hilary M. (ed.). Diversity in Sinitic Languages. Oxford University Press. pp. 157–189. ISBN 978-0-19-872379-0. p. 162.
  9. ^ de Sousa (2016), p. 160.
  10. ^ Yan, Margaret Mian (2006). Introduction to Chinese Dialectology. LINCOM Europa. p. 204. ISBN 978-3-89586-629-6.
  11. ^ "Learn a language the most natural way - Glossika". Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  12. ^ Tan, Yuanxiong 覃远雄; Wei, Shuguan 韦树关; Bian, Chenglin 卞成林 (1997). Nánníng Pínghuà cídiǎn 南宁平话词典 [Nanning Pinghua Dictionary]. Nanning: Jiangsu jiaoyu chubanshe. p. 6. ISBN 978-7-5343-3119-0. (part of the Great Dictionary of Modern Chinese Dialects, edited by Li Rong)
  13. ^ Lee, Gina (1993). Comparative, Diachronic and Experimental Perspectives on the Interaction Between Tone and the Vowel in Standard Cantonese (PDF) (Ph.D. thesis). Ohio State University. pp. 75–76.

Further reading