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Quanzhou dialect
泉州话 / 泉州話 (Choân-chiu-ōe)
Pronunciation[tsuan˨ tsiu˧ ue˦˩]
Native toChina, Taiwan, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines.
Regioncity of Quanzhou, Southern Fujian province
Native speakers
over 7 million[1]
Han characters
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Linguasphere79-AAA-jd > 79-AAA-jdb
  Quanzhou dialect

The Quanzhou dialect (simplified Chinese: 泉州话; traditional Chinese: 泉州話; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Choân-chiu-ōe), also known as the Chin-chew dialect,[2] is a dialect of Hokkien that is spoken in southern Fujian (in southeast China), in the area centered on the city of Quanzhou. Due to migration, variations of the Quanzhou dialect are spoken outside of Quanzhou, notably in Taiwan and many Southeast Asian countries, including Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.


The Quanzhou dialect is a variety of Hokkien, a group of Southern Min dialects.[3] In Fujian, the Quanzhou dialect forms the northern subgroup (北片) of Southern Min.[4] It is one of the oldest dialects of Southern Min, and along the Zhangzhou dialect, it forms the basis for all modern varieties.[5] When compared with other varieties of Hokkien, it has an intelligibility of 87.5% with the Amoy dialect and 79.7% with the Zhangzhou dialect.[6]

Cultural role

Before the 19th century, the Quanzhou dialect was the representative dialect of Southern Min in Fujian because of Quanzhou's historical and economic prominence, but as Xiamen developed into the political, economic and cultural center of southern Fujian, the Amoy dialect gradually took the place of the Quanzhou dialect as the representative dialect.[7][8] However, the Quanzhou dialect is still considered to be the standard dialect for Liyuan opera and nanyin music.[7][9]


This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and ⟨ ⟩, see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.

This section is mostly based on the variety spoken in the urban area of Quanzhou, specifically in Licheng District.


There are 14 phonemic initials, including the zero initial (not included below):[10]

Bilabial Alveolar Velar Glottal
Stop plain /p/
aspirated //
Affricate plain /ts/
aspirated /tsʰ/
Fricative /s/
Lateral /l/

When the rhyme is nasalized, the three voiced phonemes /b/, /l/ and /ɡ/ are realized as the nasal stops [m], [n] and [ŋ], respectively.[10]

The inventory of initial consonants in the Quanzhou dialect is identical to the Amoy dialect and almost identical to the Zhangzhou dialect. The Quanzhou dialect is missing the phoneme /dz/ found in the Zhangzhou dialect due to a merger of /dz/ into /l/.[11] The distinction between /dz/ () and /l/ () was still made in the early 19th century, as seen in Huìyīn Miàowù (彙音妙悟) by Huang Qian (黃謙),[11] but Huìyīn Miàowù already has nine characters categorized into both initials.[12] Rev. Carstairs Douglas has already observed the merger in the late 19th century.[13] In some areas of Yongchun, Anxi and Nan'an, there are still some people, especially those in the older generation, who distinguish /dz/ from /l/, showing that the merger is a recent innovation.[11]


There are 87 rimes:[10][14][15]

Rimes without codas (18)
/a/ /ɔ/ /o/ /ə/ /e/ /ɯ/ /ai/ /au/
/i/ /ia/ /io/ /iu/ /iau/
/u/ /ua/ /ue/ /ui/ /uai/
Rimes with nasal codas (17)
// /am/ /əm/ /an/ /ŋ̍/ /aŋ/ /ɔŋ/
/im/ /iam/ /in/ /ian/ /iŋ/ /iaŋ/ /iɔŋ/
/un/ /uan/ /uaŋ/
Nasalized rimes without codas (11)
/ã/ /ɔ̃/ // /ãi/
/ĩ/ /iã/ /iũ/ /iãu/
/uã/ /uĩ/ /uãi/
Checked rimes (41)
/ap/ /at/ /ak/ /ɔk/ /aʔ/ /ɔʔ/ /oʔ/ /əʔ/ /eʔ/ /ɯʔ/ /auʔ/ /m̩ʔ/ /ŋ̍ʔ/ /ãʔ/ /ɔ̃ʔ/ /ẽʔ/ /ãiʔ/ /ãuʔ/
/ip/ /iap/ /it/ /iat/ /iak/ /iɔk/ /iʔ/ /iaʔ/ /ioʔ/ /iauʔ/ /iuʔ/ /ĩʔ/ /iãʔ/ /iũʔ/ /iãuʔ/
/ut/ /uat/ /uʔ/ /uaʔ/ /ueʔ/ /uiʔ/ /uĩʔ/ /uãiʔ/

The actual pronunciation of the vowel /ə/ has a wider opening,[dubious ] approaching [ɤ].[10] For some speakers, especially younger ones, the vowel /ə/ is often realized as [e], e.g. pronouncing / (/pə/, "to fly") as [pe], and the vowel /ɯ/ is either realized as [i], e.g. pronouncing / (/tɯ/, "pig") as [ti], or as [u], e.g. pronouncing (/lɯ/, "woman") as [lu].[7]


For single syllables, there are seven tones:[10][16]

Name Tone letter Description
yin level (阴平; 陰平) ˧ (33) mid level
yang level (阳平; 陽平) ˨˦ (24) rising
yin rising (阴上; 陰上) ˥˥˦ (554) high level
yang rising (阳上; 陽上) ˨ (22) low level
departing (去声; 去聲) ˦˩ (41) falling
yin entering (阴入; 陰入) ˥ (5) high
yang entering (阳入; 陽入) ˨˦ (24) rising

In addition to these tones, there is also a neutral tone.[10]

Tone sandhi

As with other dialects of Hokkien, the tone sandhi rules are applied to every syllable but the final syllable in an utterance. The following is a summary of the rules:[17]


  1. ^ Lin 2008, p. 8.
  2. ^ Douglas 1873, p. xvii.
  3. ^ Zhou 2012, p. 111.
  4. ^ Huang 1998, p. 99.
  5. ^ Ding 2016, p. 3.
  6. ^ Cheng 1999, p. 241.
  7. ^ a b c Quanzhou City Local Chronicles Editorial Board 2000, overview.
  8. ^ Lin 2008, p. 9.
  9. ^ Huang 1998, p. 98.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Quanzhou City Local Chronicles Editorial Board 2000, ch. 1, sec. 1.
  11. ^ a b c Zhou 2006, introduction, p. 15.
  12. ^ Du 2013, p. 142.
  13. ^ Douglas 1873, p. 610.
  14. ^ Zhou 2006, introduction, pp. 15–17.
  15. ^ Lin 2008, pp. 36–37.
  16. ^ Zhou 2006, introduction, p. 17.
  17. ^ Quanzhou City Local Chronicles Editorial Board 2000, ch. 1, sec. 2.