For the type of story, see Pinghua (storytelling).
平話 / 平话

Pinghua written in Chinese characters
Native to China
Region Guangxi
Native speakers
over 2 million (2016)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 None (mis)
ISO 639-6 (none)
Glottolog ping1244
Traditional Chinese 平話
Simplified Chinese 平话
Cantonese Yale Pìhng Wá
Hanyu Pinyin Píng Huà
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 廣西平話
Simplified Chinese 广西平话
Cantonese Yale Gwóngsāi Pìhng Wá
Hanyu Pinyin Guǎngxī Píng Huà

Pinghua (simplified Chinese: 平话; traditional Chinese: 平話; pinyin: Pínghuà; Yale: Pìhng Wá; sometimes disambiguated as 廣西平話/广西平话) is a group of related varieties of Chinese spoken mainly in parts of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, with some speakers in Yunnan province. Pinghua is a trade language in some areas of Guangxi, where it is spoken as a second language by speakers of Zhuang languages. Some speakers of Pinghua are officially classified as Zhuang, and many are genetically distinct from the Han majority of Chinese speakers.[2] The northern subgroup of Pinghua is centered on Guilin and the southern subgroup around Nanning. Southern Pinghua has several notable features such as having four distinct checked tones, and using various loanwords from Zhuang, such as the final particle wei for imperative sentences.

History and classification

Language surveys in Guangxi during the 1950s recorded varieties of Chinese that had been included in the Yue dialect group but were different from those in Guangdong. Pinghua was designated as a separate dialect group from Yue by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in the 1980s[3] and since then has been treated as a separate dialect in textbooks and surveys.[4] However, it is not at present noted in Ethnologue.

Since designation as a separate dialect group, Pinghua has been the focus of increased research. In 2008 a report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences of research into Chinese varieties noted an increase in research papers and surveys of Pinghua, from 7 before the 1987 publication of the Language Atlas of China based on the revised classification, and about 156 between then and 2004.[5]

In the 1980s the number of speakers was listed as over 2 million.[6]

Pinghua is divided into two mutually unintelligible subgroups:[1]


Nanning Pinghua has a voiceless lateral fricative [ɬ] for Middle Chinese /s/ or /z/, for example in the numbers /ɬam/ "three" and /ɬi/ "four".[9][10] This is unlike Standard Cantonese but like some other Yue varieties such as Taishanese.


Southern Pinghua has six contrasting tones in open syllables, and four in checked syllables,[11] as found in neighbouring Yue varieties such as the Bobai dialect:

Tones of Nanning Pinghua
Tone name Level
52 or ˥˨ 33 or ˧˧ 55 or ˥˥ 5 or ˥
3 or ˧
21 or ˨˩ 24 or ˨˦ 22 or ˨˨ 23 or ˨˧
2 or ˨

The split of the lower entering tone is determined by the initial consonant, with the low rising contour occurring after sonorant initials.[12]


Genetically, Pinghua speakers have more in common with non-Han ethnic minorities in southern China than with other Han groups.[2]


  1. 1 2 Chappell, Hilary; Li, Lan (2016). "Mandarin and other Sinitic languages". In Chan, Sin-Wai. The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Chinese Language. Routledge. pp. 605–628. ISBN 978-1-317-38249-2. p. 624.
  2. 1 2 Pinghua population as an exception of Han Chinese's coherent genetic structure
  3. 现代汉语 "Modern Chinese" ISBN 7-04-002652-X page 15
  4. Kurpaska, Maria (2010). Chinese Language(s): A Look Through the Prism of "The Great Dictionary of Modern Chinese Dialects". Walter de Gruyter. pp. 55–56, 76. ISBN 978-3-11-021914-2.
  5. cass report by 王宏宇 (in Chinese), April 2008
  6. 现代汉语 "Modern Chinese" ISBN 7-04-002652-X page 21
  7. de Sousa, Hilário (2016). "Language contact in Nanning: Nanning Pinghua and Nanning Cantonese". In Chappell, Hilary M. Diversity in Sinitic Languages. Oxford University Press. pp. 157–189. ISBN 978-0-19-872379-0. p. 162.
  8. de Sousa (2016), p. 160.
  9. Yan, Margaret Mian (2006). Introduction to Chinese Dialectology. LINCOM Europa. p. 204. ISBN 978-3-89586-629-6.
  11. Tan, Yuanxiong 覃远雄; Wei, Shuguan 韦树关; Bian, Chenglin 卞成林 (1997). Nánníng Pínghuà cídiǎn 南宁平话词典 [Nanning Pinghua Dictionary]. Nanning: Jiangsu jiaoyu chubanshe. p. 6. ISBN 978-7-5343-3119-0. (part of the Great Dictionary of Modern Chinese Dialects, edited by Li Rong)
  12. Lee, Gina (1993). Comparative, diachronic and experimental perspectives on the interaction between tone and the vowel in Standard Cantonese (PDF) (Ph.D. thesis). Ohio State University. pp. 75–76.

Further reading

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