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Northeastern Mandarin (simplified Chinese: 东北话; traditional Chinese: 東北話; pinyin: Dōngběihuà; literally: 'Northeast Speech' or 东北官话/東北官話 Dōngběiguānhuà "Northeast Mandarin") is the subgroup of Mandarin varieties spoken in Northeast China with the exception of the Liaodong Peninsula. The classification of Northeastern Mandarin as a separate dialect group from Beijing Mandarin was first proposed by Li Rong, author of the Language Atlas of China, in 1989. However, many researchers do not accept the distinction.[2]

Northeastern Mandarin
東北話 / 东北话
Native toJilin, Heilongjiang, Liaoning and Inner Mongolia provinces of China; (Overseas, United States-New York City, Russia-primarily in Primorsky Krai)
RegionNortheast China
Native speakers
(82 million cited 1987)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3
ISO 639-6dbiu
Mandarín noreste.png

Geographical distributionEdit

Northeastern Mandarin varieties are spoken in the northeastern part of China, in the provinces of Liaoning (except its southern part from Dalian to Dandong where Jiaoliao Mandarin is spoken), Jilin and Heilongjiang, and in some northern parts of Inner Mongolia.[3] The number of speakers was estimated in 1987 as 82 million.[1] The Language Atlas of China divided Northeastern Mandarin into three subgroups, following a classification be Hè Wēi based on the occurrence of nasal initials in words having a zero initial in Beijing:[3][4][5]

  • Jí–Shěn (吉沈) in the east, including Jilin dialect and Shenyang dialect, has a zero initial in these words, as in Beijing.
  • Hā–Fù (哈阜) in the west, including Harbin dialect and Changchun dialect, have nasal initials in these words.
  • Hēi–Sōng (黑松) in the north, including Qiqihar dialect, have zero or nasal initials in random variation.

More distant varieties tend to be more similar to the Beijing dialect than closer ones, so that the speech of Harbin is closer to that of Beijing than that of Jilin and Changchun, which in turn are closer than that of Shenyang.[6]

A form of Northeastern Mandarin (with some words from Udege and Nanai) has been spoken since approximately 1800 by the Taz people nearby in the Russian Far East, primarily in Primorsky Krai.[7]

Overseas, Northeastern Mandarin is spoken in increasingly larger communities in New York City Chinatowns in the United States.


Northeastern Mandarin shares similarities with the Beijing dialect, such as a similar development of the entering tone and the preservation of initial [w], where the dialects of Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, have [v].[6] However, in northeastern Chinese, final -ian or -üan is pronounced with an [æ] rather than with [ɛ] or [e] as in the standard.[8] The [ʐ] initial of Beijing (spelled r- in pinyin) is generally omitted in northeastern varieties.[9][10]

Cultural and regional identityEdit

Mandarin variants like Northeastern Mandarin often contribute to a strong regional identity. Because of its informal usage of words and tones, comedians often use Northeast dialects when performing. Comedian Zhao Benshan is recognized nationwide for his performances which make humorous use of Northeastern dialect and Northeastern Errenzhuan folk dance and song traditions.[11]


  1. ^ a b Yan (2006), p. 62.
  2. ^ 张世方 (2010). 北京官话语音研究. 北京语言大学出版社. p. 45. ISBN 9787561927755.
  3. ^ a b Wurm et al. (1987), Map B1.
  4. ^ Kurpaska (2010), p. 64.
  5. ^ Simmons (2016), p. 70.
  6. ^ a b Li (2004), p. 101.
  7. ^ "Russian Census 2010: Population by ethnicity". Gosudarstvennyi komitet po statistike. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  8. ^ Li (2004), p. 115.
  9. ^ Wurm et al. (1987), B1.
  10. ^ Kurpaska (2010), p. 90.
  11. ^ Liu (2011), p. 74.

Works cited