Waxianghua, Wogang
Native toChina
Regionwestern Hunan
Native speakers
(300,000 cited 1995)[1]
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,[2][3] 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)[4] and others,[5][6][7] 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.[2][3] Similarities among Old Chinese, Waxiang, Caijia, and Bai have also been pointed out by Wu & Shen (2010).[8]

Qu & Tang (2017) show that Waxiang and Miao (Qo Xiong) have had little mutual influence on each other.[9]


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 Guazhang County (including in Shaojitian Village 筲箕田村, Shanzao Township 山枣乡) and parts of Luxi County.[10] Liubaohua is spoken in the following locations (Zou 2013).

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):[11]

Waxiang also has some cases of /z/ for Old Chinese *r- (which became l- in Middle Chinese):[12]

In a number of words, Waxiang and Proto-Min have affricate initials where Middle Chinese has sy-:[13]

In some words, Waxiang and Proto-Min have voiced affricates where Middle Chinese has y-:[14]

Waxiang and Caijia

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 'love', which has been replaced by in all other Chinese varieties. Waxiang and Caijia also share two words not found in other Chinese varieties:[4]

See also


  1. ^ Waxiang at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b Baxter, William; Sagart, Laurent (2014). Old Chinese: A New Reconstruction. Oxford University Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-19-994537-5.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ a b 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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ 湘西瓦乡话“吃饭”【柔摸】读音来历考
  7. ^ 沅陵乡话(船溪)与白语蔡家话个别读音对比
  8. ^ 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].
  9. ^ Qu Jianhui 瞿建慧; Tang Jiaxin 唐家新. 2017. 湘西乡话与湘西苗语. Minzu Yuwen, vol. 2.
  10. ^ Zou Xiaoling 邹晓玲. 2013. 湘西古丈县“六保话”的系属.
  11. ^ Baxter & Sagart (2014), p. 109.
  12. ^ Baxter & Sagart (2014), p. 110.
  13. ^ Baxter & Sagart (2014), p. 93.
  14. ^ Baxter & Sagart (2014), p. 189.

Further reading