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Quanzhou dialect

The Quanzhou dialect (simplified Chinese: 泉州话; traditional Chinese: 泉州話; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Choân-chiu-ōe), also known as the Chin-chew dialect,[2] is a Hokkien dialect that is spoken in southern Fujian (in southeast China), in the area centered on the city of Quanzhou. Due to migration, variations of the Quanzhou dialect are spoken outside of Quanzhou, notably in Taiwan and many Southeast Asian countries, including Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Quanzhou dialect
泉州话 / 泉州話 (Choân-chiu-ōe)
Pronunciation[tsuan˨ tsiu˧ ue˦˩]
Native toChina, Taiwan, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines.
Regioncity of Quanzhou, Southern Fujian province
Native speakers
over 7 million[1]
Han characters
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Linguasphere79-AAA-jd > 79-AAA-jdb
Hokkien Map.svg
     Quanzhou dialect



The Quanzhou dialect is a variety of Hokkien, a group of Southern Min dialects.[3] In Fujian, the Quanzhou dialect forms the northern subgroup (北片) of Southern Min.[4] It is one of the oldest dialects of Southern Min, and along the Zhangzhou dialect, it forms the basis for all modern varieties.[5] When compared with other varieties of Hokkien, it has an intelligibility of 87.5% with the Amoy dialect and 79.7% with the Zhangzhou dialect.[6]

Cultural roleEdit

Before the 19th century, the Quanzhou dialect was the representative dialect of Southern Min in Fujian because of Quanzhou's historical and economic prominence, but as Xiamen developed into the political, economic and cultural center of southern Fujian, the Amoy dialect gradually took the place of the Quanzhou dialect as the representative dialect.[7][8] However, the Quanzhou dialect is still considered to be the standard dialect for Liyuan opera and nanyin music.[7][9]


This section is mostly based on the variety spoken in the urban area of Quanzhou, specifically in Licheng District.


There are 14 phonemic initials, including the zero initial (not included below):[10]

Bilabial Alveolar Velar Glottal
Stop plain /p/
aspirated //
Affricate plain /ts/
aspirated /tsʰ/
Fricative /s/
Lateral /l/

When the rhyme is nasalized, the three voiced phonemes /b/, /l/ and /g/ are realized as the nasal stops [m], [n] and [ŋ], respectively.[10]

The inventory of initial consonants in the Quanzhou dialect is identical to the Amoy dialect and almost identical to the Zhangzhou dialect. The Quanzhou dialect is missing the phoneme /dz/ found in the Zhangzhou dialect due to a merger of /dz/ into /l/.[11] The distinction between /dz/ () and /l/ () was still made in the early 19th century, as seen in Huìyīn Miàowù (彙音妙悟) by Huang Qian (黃謙),[11] but Huìyīn Miàowù already has nine characters categorized into both initials.[12] Rev. Carstairs Douglas has already observed the merger in the late 19th century.[13] In some areas of Yongchun, Anxi and Nan'an, there are still some people, especially those in the older generation, who distinguish /dz/ from /l/, showing that the merger is a recent innovation.[11]


There are at least 87 rimes:[10][14][15]

Rimes without codas (18)
/a/ /ɔ/ /o/ /ə/ /e/ /ɯ/ /ai/ /au/
/i/ /ia/ /io/ /iu/ /iau/
/u/ /ua/ /ue/ /ui/ /uai/
Rimes with nasal codas (17/18)
// /am/ /əm/ /an/ /ŋ̍/ /aŋ/ /ɔŋ/ /ɯŋ/[16]
/im/ /iam/ /in/ /ian/ /iŋ/ /iaŋ/ /iɔŋ/
/un/ /uan/ /uaŋ/
Nasalized rimes without codas (11)
/ã/ /ɔ̃/ // /ãi/
/ĩ/ /iã/ /iũ/ /iãu/
/uã/ /uĩ/ /uãi/
Checked rimes (41)
/ap/ /at/ /ak/ /ɔk/ /aʔ/ /ɔʔ/ /oʔ/ /əʔ/ /eʔ/ /ɯʔ/ /auʔ/ /m̩ʔ/ /ŋ̍ʔ/ /ãʔ/ /ɔ̃ʔ/ /ẽʔ/ /ãiʔ/ /ãuʔ/
/ip/ /iap/ /it/ /iat/ /iak/ /iɔk/ /iʔ/ /iaʔ/ /ioʔ/ /iauʔ/ /iuʔ/ /ĩʔ/ /iãʔ/ /iũʔ/ /iãuʔ/
/ut/ /uat/ /uʔ/ /uaʔ/ /ueʔ/ /uiʔ/ /uĩʔ/ /uãiʔ/


For single syllables, there are seven tones:[10][17]

Name Tone letter Description
yin level (阴平; 陰平) ˧ (33) mid level
yang level (阳平; 陽平) ˨˦ (24) rising
yin rising (阴上; 陰上) ˥˥˦ (554) high level
yang rising (阳上; 陽上) ˨ (22) low level
departing (去声; 去聲) ˦˩ (41) falling
yin entering (阴入; 陰入) ˥ (5) high
yang entering (阳入; 陽入) ˨˦ (24) rising

In addition to these tones, there is also a neutral tone.[10]

Tone sandhiEdit

As with other dialects of Hokkien, the tone sandhi rules are applied to every syllable but the final syllable in an utterance. The following is a summary of the rules:[18]

  • The yin level (33) and yang rising (22) tones do not undergo tone sandhi.
  • The yang level and entering tones (24) are pronounced as the yang rising tone (22).
  • The yin rising tone (554) is pronounced as the yang level tone (24).
  • The departing tone (41) depends on the voicing of the initial consonant in Middle Chinese:
    • If the Middle Chinese initial consonant is voiceless, it is pronounced as the yin rising tone (554).
    • If the Middle Chinese initial consonant is voiced, it is pronounced as the yang rising tone (22).
  • The yin entering (5) depends on the final consonant:
    • If the final consonant is /p/, /t/ or /k/, it is pronounced as the yang level tone (24).
    • If the final consonant is /ʔ/, it does not undergo tone sandhi.


  1. ^ Lin 2008, p. 8.
  2. ^ Douglas 1873, p. xvii.
  3. ^ Zhou 2012, p. 111.
  4. ^ Huang 1998, p. 99.
  5. ^ Ding 2016, p. 3.
  6. ^ Cheng 1999, p. 241.
  7. ^ a b Quanzhou City Local Chronicles Editorial Board 2000, overview.
  8. ^ Lin 2008, p. 9.
  9. ^ Huang 1998, p. 98.
  10. ^ a b c d e Quanzhou City Local Chronicles Editorial Board 2000, ch. 1, sec. 1.
  11. ^ a b c Zhou 2006, introduction, p. 15.
  12. ^ Du 2013, p. 142.
  13. ^ Douglas 1873, p. 610.
  14. ^ Zhou 2006, introduction, pp. 15–17.
  15. ^ Lin 2008, pp. 36–37.
  16. ^ Carine Yuk-man Yiu. The Typology of Motion Events: An Empirical Study of Chinese Dialects. p. 167.
  17. ^ Zhou 2006, introduction, p. 17.
  18. ^ Quanzhou City Local Chronicles Editorial Board 2000, ch. 1, sec. 2.


External linksEdit