Waxianghua, Xianghua, Wogang
Native toChina
Regionwestern Hunan
EthnicityWaxiang people
Native speakers
(300,000 cited 1995)[1]
Early forms
Language codes
ISO 639-3wxa
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,[3][4] spoken by the Waxiang people, an unrecognized ethnic minority group in the northwestern part of Hunan province, China. Waxiang is a distinct language, and is very different from the surrounding Southwestern Mandarin, Xiang Chinese, and the Eastern Miao (Xong) languages.


Further information: Macro-Bai languages

As noted by Laurent Sagart (2011)[5] and others,[6][7][8] 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.[3][4] Similarities among Old Chinese, Waxiang, Caijia, and Bai have also been pointed out by Wu & Shen (2010).[9]

Qu & Tang (2017) show that Waxiang and Miao (Qo Xiong) have had little mutual influence on each other.[10]


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 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 Guzhang County (including in Shaojitian Village 筲箕田村, Shanzao Township 山枣乡 ) and parts of Luxi County.[11] Liubaohua is spoken in the following locations (Zou 2013).

The Nanshan dialect of Waxianghua (Chinese: 南山乡话) is spoken in parts of Chengbu County, Hunan and Longsheng County, Guangxi by about 1,100 Waxiang people who had originally migrated from Yuanling County. Their villages include:[12]


Initials of Guzhang county Waxiang[14]
  Labial Alveolar Alveolo-palatal Velar
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosives voiced b d g
voiceless unaspirated p t k
voiceless aspirated
Fricatives voiced v z ʑ ɣ
voiceless s ɕ x
Affricates voiced ʣ
voiceless unaspirated ʦ
voiceless aspirated ʦʰ tɕʰ 轿
Lateral approximants l Ø

Conservative features

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):[15]

Waxiang also has some cases of /z/ for Old Chinese *r- (which became l- in Middle Chinese):[16]

In a number of words, Waxiang and Proto-Min have affricate initials where Middle Chinese has sy-:[17]

In some words, Waxiang and Proto-Min have voiced affricates where Middle Chinese has y-:[18]

Waxiang and Caijia

Sagart (2011) argues that Waxiang and Caijia together constitute the earliest branching of Chinese. However, Sagart later retracted this proposal, saying that he is no longer sure whether Waxiang and Caijia actually form a subgroup together.[5]

Like Waxiang, Caijia preserves Old Chinese *l-, has a voiced fricative reflex of *r-, and retains the Old Chinese word 'love', which has been replaced by in all other Chinese varieties. Waxiang and Caijia also share two words not found in other Chinese varieties:[5]


  1. ^ Waxiang at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian (2023-07-10). "Glottolog 4.8 - Waxianghua". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. doi:10.5281/zenodo.7398962. Archived from the original on 2023-08-24. Retrieved 2023-10-13.
  3. ^ a b Baxter, William; Sagart, Laurent (2014). Old Chinese: A New Reconstruction. Oxford University Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-19-994537-5.
  4. ^ a b Kurpaska, Maria (2010). Chinese Language(s): A Look Through the Prism of "The Great Dictionary of Modern Chinese Dialects". Walter de Gruyter. p. 73. ISBN 978-3-11-021914-2.
  5. ^ a b c Sagart, Laurent. 2011. Classifying Chinese dialects/Sinitic languages on shared innovations. Talk given at Centre de recherches linguistiques sur l’Asie orientale, Norgent sur Marne.
  6. ^ de Sousa, Hilário. 2015. The Far Southern Sinitic Languages as part of Mainland Southeast Asia. In Enfield, N.J. & Comrie, Bernard (eds.), Languages of Mainland Southeast Asia: The state of the art (Pacific Linguistics 649), 356–439. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. doi:10.1515/9781501501685-009.
  7. ^ 湘西瓦乡话“吃饭”【柔摸】读音来历考
  8. ^ 沅陵乡话(船溪)与白语蔡家话个别读音对比
  9. ^ Wu Yunji, Shen Ruiqing [伍云姬、沈瑞清]. 2010. An Investigative Report of Waxianghua of Guzhang County, Xiangxi Prefecture [湘西古丈瓦乡话调查报告]. Shanghai Educational Press [上海教育出版社].
  10. ^ Qu Jianhui 瞿建慧; Tang Jiaxin 唐家新. 2017. Xiangxi Xianghua yu Xiangxi Miaoyu 湘西乡话与湘西苗语. Minzu Yuwen, vol. 2.
  11. ^ Zou, Xiaoling 邹晓玲. 2012. Classification of "Siklehua" in Guzhang County in Western Hunan 湘西古丈县“六保话”的系属. Journal of Jishou University (Social Science Edition) 吉首大学学报(社会科学版) 33(1).
  12. ^ Zheng, Yanxia [郑焱霞]; Peng, Jianguo [彭建国]. 2016. Hunan Chengbu Xuntou Xianghua yanjiu [湖南城步巡头乡话研究]. Hunan Normal University Press [湖南师范大学出版社].
  13. ^ Zheng, Yanxia 郑焱霞. 2010. Xiang-Gui bianjie Nanshan Xianghua yanjiu 湘桂边界南山乡话研究. Doctoral dissertation. Changsha: Hunan Normal University 湖南师范大学.
  14. ^ 伍云姬、沈瑞清合著《湘西古丈瓦乡话调查报告》
  15. ^ Baxter & Sagart (2014), p. 109.
  16. ^ Baxter & Sagart (2014), p. 110.
  17. ^ Baxter & Sagart (2014), p. 93.
  18. ^ Baxter & Sagart (2014), p. 189.

Further reading