Southern Qiang
RegionSichuan Province
EthnicityQiang people
Native speakers
(81,000 cited 1999)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3qxs
ELPSouthern Qiang
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Southern Qiang is a Sino-Tibetan language of the Qiangic branch spoken by approximately 81,300 people along the Minjiang (Chinese: 岷江) river in Sichuan Province, China.

Southern Qiang dialects preserve archaic pronoun flexions, while they have disappeared in Northern Qiang.[2] Unlike its close relative Northern Qiang, Southern Qiang is a tonal language.

Southern Qiang dialects

Southern Qiang is spoken in Li County (in Taoping Chinese: 桃坪, etc.), Wenchuan County (in Longxi 龙溪, Luobozhai 萝卜寨, Miansi 绵虒, etc.), and parts of Mao County. It consists of seven dialects: Dajishan, Taoping, Longxi, Mianchi, Heihu, Sanlong, and Jiaochang, which are greatly divergent and are not mutually intelligible.

Names seen in the older literature for Southern Qiang dialects include Lofuchai (Lophuchai, Lopu Chai), Wagsod (Wa-gsod, Waszu),[3] and Outside/Outer Mantse (Man-tzŭ).[4] The Southern Qiang dialect of Puxi Township has been documented in detail by Huang (2007).[5]

Liu (1998) adds Sānlóng (Chinese: 三龍) and Jiàocháng (較場) as Southern subdialects.[6]

Sims (2016)[7] characterizes Southern Qiang as the perfective agreement suffixes innovation group. Individual dialects are highlighted in italics.

Southern Qiang


The consonants of Southern Qiang are presented in the table below:[8]

Southern Qiang consonants
Labial Dental Retroflex Palato-
Palatal Velar Uvular
plain sibilant
voiceless p t ts ʈʂ k q
aspirated tsʰ ʈʂʰ tʃʰ tɕʰ
voiced b d dz ɖʐ ɡ ɢ
Fricative voiceless f s ʂ ʃ ɕ (x) χ
voiced z ʐ ʒ ʑ (ɣ) ʁ
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Approximant l j, ɥ w

The vowels of Southern Qiang are presented in the table below:[8]

Southern Qiang vowels
Front Central Back
Close i y u
Mid e ə ə˞ o
Open a ɑ
Syllabic ɹ̩


Southern Qiang dialects have widely varying tones. The tones become more numerous and distinct the farther the dialect is from the Northern group. Evans (2001) lists the following tonal systems:[9]

Taoping Qiang

The dialect of Taoping has six tones. Liu (1998) reports 4,900 speakers. Out of 1,754 analyzed syllables, the tones are distributed as follows:

Longxi Qiang

The dialect of Longxi has five tones, of which the two "major" tones make up 98.9% of the 6,150 analyzed syllables. Liu (1998) reports 3,300 speakers. The tones are distributed as follows on the analyzed syllables:

Mianchi Qiang

The dialect of Mianchi has 15,700 speakers according to Liu (1998). Its tones are added to a pitch-accent system of high and low(-falling) pitch, wherein native words may only have one accented syllable. A phonological word may be accented or unaccented, and the accent may for the most part occur on any syllable. Of the 6,369 syllables analyzed, over 95% follow this system; the remaining few have one of three contour tones:

Other dialects

The dialects that border the Northern Qiang area, such as that of Heihu, Mao County, use tone exclusively to distinguish native words and loanwords.

Wen (1950) reports that the dialect of Jiuziying utilizes a pitch-accent system, claiming that "only when two or more syllables are in juxtaposition is a pitch-accent definitely required, especially for homophones." Below is a table comparing some vocabulary of the dialects of Jiuziying, Taoping, Longxi, and Mianchi.

Gloss Jiuziying Taoping Longxi Mianchi
last year nɤ́ pɤ́ ȵi3133 nǝ́ pù né pù
two years nɤ̀ pɤ̀
pheasant í dzú i31 dʑy241 ỳ-zó
friend ì dzù ì zù ~ ỳ zù ì dʑòu
inside kò kò ko55 ko33 kù kú qò qó
elder brother kó kò à kò qó qò
uncle pà pá pe33 pe33 á pà
father pá pà 5533

In the dialect of Hou'ergu, Li County, tones are variable on monosyllables depending on the directional prefix (e.g. sɹ̩31 t'ie53; sɹ̩33 t'ie21; dæ55 t'ie33). However, tones are stable on polysyllables.

The tones of the Lobuzhai dialect often have variation in their pitch patterns (e.g. so31 ɲi31 ~ so33 ɲi33), although this is not always the case.


As with many of the Qiangic languages, Southern Qiang is becoming increasingly threatened. Because the education system largely uses Standard Chinese as a medium of instruction for the Qiang people, and as a result of the universal access to schooling and television, most Qiang children are fluent or even monolingual in Chinese while an increasing percentage cannot speak Qiang.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Southern Qiang at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Guillaume, Jacques (2007). "A shared suppletive pattern in the pronominal systems of Chang Naga and Southern Qiang". Cahiers de Linguistique Asie Orientale. 36 (1): 4.
  3. ^ McCoy, John, ed. (1986). Contributions to Sino-Tibetan Studies. Leiden: E.J. Brill. pp. 40, 65. ISBN 90-04-07850-9.
  4. ^ Sun, Jackson T.-S. (1992). "Review of Zangmianyu Yuyin He Cihui "Tibeto-Burman Phonology and Lexicon"" (PDF). Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area. 15 (2): 76–77.
  5. ^ Huang, Chenglong 黄成龙 (2007). Púxī Qiāngyǔ yánjiū 蒲溪羌语研究 [Studies on Puxi Qiang] (in Chinese). Beijing shi: Minzu chubanshe. ISBN 978-7-105-08977-2.
  6. ^ Liu, Guangkun 刘光坤 (1998). Máwō Qiāngyǔ yánjiū 麻窝羌语研究 [Studies on Mawo Qiang] (in Chinese). Chengdu: Sichuan minzu chubanshe. ISBN 7-5409-2116-1.
  7. ^ Sims, N. (2016). "Towards a More Comprehensive Understanding of Qiang Dialectology" (PDF). Language and Linguistics. 17 (3): 351–381. doi:10.1177/1606822X15586685.
  8. ^ a b Sun, Hongkai 孙宏开 (1981). Qiāngyǔ jiǎnzhì 羌语简志 (in Chinese). Minzu chubanshe.
  9. ^ Evans, Jonathan P. (2001). Contact-Induced Tonogenesis in Southern Qiang. Michigan State University and Oakland University. pp. 65–67.
  10. ^ LaPolla, Randy J. (2003). A Grammar of Qiang: With Annotated Texts and Glossary. with Chenglong Huan. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. p. 5. ISBN 3-11-017829-X.


  • Bradley, David (1997). "Tibeto-Burman Languages and Classification" (PDF). In Bradley, D. (ed.). Papers in South East Asian Linguistics No. 14: Tibeto-Burman Languages of the Himalayas. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. pp. 1–72. ISBN 0-85883-456-1.
  • Chang, Kun 張琨 (1967). "A Comparative Study of the Southern Ch'iang 蒐 Dialects". Monumenta Serica. 26 (1): 422–444. doi:10.1080/02549948.1967.11744974.
  • Evans, Jonathan P. (2001a). Introduction to Qiang Lexicon and Phonology: Synchrony and Diachrony. Tokyo: ILCAA, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.