Jin (simplified Chinese: 晋语; traditional Chinese: 晉語; pinyin: jìnyǔ) is a group of Chinese dialects or languages spoken by roughly 63 million people in northern China. Its geographical distribution covers most of Shanxi province except for the lower Fen River valley, much of central Inner Mongolia and adjoining areas in Hebei, Henan, and Shaanxi provinces. The status of Jin is disputed among linguists: Some prefer to classify it as a dialect of Mandarin, but others set it apart as a closely related, but separate sister-language to Mandarin.
|晋语 / 晉語|
Jinyu written in Chinese characters
|Region||most of Shanxi province; central Inner Mongolia; parts of Hebei, Henan, Shaanxi|
|63.05 million (2012)|
|Alternative Chinese name|
|Literal meaning||Shanxi speech|
Until the 1980s, Jin dialects were universally included within Mandarin Chinese. In 1985, however, Li Rong proposed that Jin should be considered a separate top-level dialect group, similar to Yue or Wu. His main criterion was that Jin dialects had preserved the entering tone as a separate category, still marked with a glottal stop as in the Wu dialects, but distinct in this respect from most other Mandarin dialects.
- Use of the entering tone as a diagnostic feature is inconsistent with the way that all other Chinese dialect groups have been delineated based on the reflexes of the Middle Chinese voiced initials.
- Certain other Mandarin dialects also preserve the glottal stop, especially the Jianghuai dialects, and so far, no linguist has claimed that these dialects should also be split from Mandarin.
- spoken in central Shanxi (the ancient Bing Province), including Taiyuan.
- spoken in western Shanxi (including Lüliang) and northern Shaanxi.
- spoken in the area of Changzhi (ancient Shangdang) in southeastern Shanxi.
- spoken in parts of northern Shanxi (including Wutai County) and central Inner Mongolia.
- spoken in parts of northern Shanxi and central Inner Mongolia, including Baotou.
- spoken in Zhangjiakou in northwestern Hebei and parts of central Inner Mongolia, including Hohhot.
- spoken in southeastern Shanxi, southern Hebei (including Handan) and northern Henan (including Xinxiang).
- spoken in Zhidan County and Yanchuan County in northern Shaanxi.
Unlike most varieties of Mandarin, Jin has preserved a final glottal stop, which is the remnant of a final stop consonant (/p/, /t/ or /k/). This is in common with the Early Mandarin of the Yuan Dynasty (c. 14th century AD) and with a number of modern southern varieties of Chinese. In Middle Chinese, syllables closed with a stop consonant had no tone; Chinese linguists, however, prefer to categorize such syllables as belonging to a separate tone class, traditionally called the "entering tone". Syllables closed with a glottal stop in Jin are still toneless, or alternatively, Jin can be said to still maintain the entering tone. (In standard Mandarin Chinese, syllables formerly ending with a glottal stop have been reassigned to one of the other tone classes in a seemingly random fashion.)
- Tone sandhi rules depend on the grammatical structure of the words being put together. Hence, an adjective–noun compound may go through different sets of changes compared to a verb–object compound.
- There are tones that merge when words are pronounced alone, but behave differently (and hence are differentiated) during tone sandhi.
Jin readily employs prefixes such as 圪 /kəʔ/, 忽 /xəʔ/, and 入 /zəʔ/, in a variety of derivational constructions. For example:
入鬼 "fool around" < 鬼 "ghost, devil"
In addition, there are a number of words in Jin that evolved, evidently, by splitting a mono-syllabic word into two, adding an 'l' in between (cf. Ubbi Dubbi, but with /l/ instead of /b/). For example:
/pəʔ ləŋ/ < 蹦 pəŋ "hop"
/tʰəʔ luɤ/ < 拖 tʰuɤ "drag"
/kuəʔ la/ < 刮 kua "scrape"
/xəʔ lɒ̃/ < 巷 xɒ̃ "street"
A similar process can in fact be found in most Mandarin dialects (e.g. 窟窿 kulong < 孔 kong), but it is especially common in Jin.
This may be a kind of reservation for double-initials in Old Chinese. For example, the character 孔 (pronounced /kʰoːŋ/ in Mandarin) which appears more often as 窟窿 /kʰuəʔ luŋ/ in Jin, had the pronunciation like /kʰloːŋ/ in Old Chinese.
Some dialects of Jin make a three-way distinction in demonstratives. (Modern English, for example, has only a two-way distinction between "this" and "that", with "yonder" being archaic.)
- Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (2012), Zhōngguó yǔyán dìtú jí (dì 2 bǎn): Hànyǔ fāngyán juǎn 中国语言地图集(第2版):汉语方言卷 [Language Atlas of China (2nd edition): Chinese dialect volume], Beijing: The Commercial Press.
- Hou Jingyi 侯精一; Shen Ming 沈明 (2002), Hou Jingyi 侯精一, ed., 现代汉语方言概论 [Overview of modern Chinese dialects] (in Chinese), Shanghai Education Press, ISBN 7-5320-8084-6
- Kurpaska, Maria (2010), Chinese Language(s): A Look Through the Prism of The Great Dictionary of Modern Chinese Dialects, Walter de Gruyter, ISBN 978-3-11-021914-2
- Yan, Margaret Mian (2006), Introduction to Chinese Dialectology, LINCOM Europa, ISBN 978-3-89586-629-6.