|(300,000 cited 1995)|
Dialect map of Hunan.
Waxiang is dark blue on the map.
Waxiang (simplified Chinese: 瓦乡话; traditional Chinese: 瓦鄉話; pinyin: Wǎxiānghuà; ɕioŋ˥tsa˧) is a divergent variety of Chinese, spoken by the Waxiang people, an unrecognized ethnic minority group in the northwestern part of Hunan province, China. Waxiang is a distinct language, very different from its surrounding Southwestern Mandarin, Xiang Chinese and the Hmongic Qo Xiong languages.
Further information: Greater Bai languages
As noted by Laurent Sagart (2011) and others, Waxiang appears to share some words with the Caijia language of western Guizhou. Sagart (2011) considers Caijia to be a sister of Waxiang. Currently, Waxiang is classified as a divergent Chinese variety rather than a non-Sinitic language. Similarities among Old Chinese, Waxiang, Caijia, and Bai have also been pointed out by Wu & Shen (2010).
Qu & Tang (2017) show that Waxiang and Miao (Qo Xiong) have had little mutual influence on each other.
Waxianghua is found in Luxi, Guzhang and Yongshun counties in Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Zhangjiajie prefecture-level city (in Dayong 大庸), and Chenxi, Xupu and Yuanling counties in Huaihua prefecture-level city. Neighboring languages include Southwestern Mandarin, Xiang Chinese, Tujia, Qo Xiong, and Hm Nai.
The word Wa 瓦 is only a phonetic transcription.
Wu & Shen (2010) report Waxianghua to be spoken in the following villages.
Liubaohua 六保话, a dialect closely related to Waxianghua, is spoken in several villages in southeastern Guazhang County (including in Shaojitian Village 筲箕田村, Shanzao Township 山枣乡) and parts of Luxi County. Liubaohua is spoken in the following locations (Zou 2013).
Waxiang preserves a number of features of Old Chinese not found in most modern varieties of Chinese, such as the initial *l- (which became a voiced dental stop in Middle Chinese):
Waxiang also has some cases of /z/ for Old Chinese *r- (which became l- in Middle Chinese):
In a number of words, Waxiang and Proto-Min have affricate initials where Middle Chinese has sy-:
In some words, Waxiang and Proto-Min have voiced affricates where Middle Chinese has y-:
Sagart argues that Waxiang and Caijia together constitute the earliest branching of Chinese. Like Waxiang, Caijia preserves Old Chinese *l-, has a voiced fricative reflex of *r-, and retains the Old Chinese word 字 'love', which has been replaced by 愛 in all other Chinese varieties. Waxiang and Caijia also share two words not found in other Chinese varieties: