Romanization of Wu Chinese

Wu Chinese has four major schools of romanization.

The most popular school, Common Wu Pinyin (通用吴语拼音), was developed by amateur language clubs and local learners. There are two competing schemes; both adhere to the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and are very similar to each other. The initial scheme was "Wu Chinese Society pinyin" (吴语协会拼音, developed around 2005), and it formed the basis of "Wugniu pinyin" (吴语学堂拼音, around 2016). Wu Chinese Society pinyin in general does not mark tones.[1] The name Wugniu comes from the Shanghainese pronunciation of 吴语. Either of them is the default romanization scheme in most learning materials.

The second and historical school is the missionary school (see zh:吴语拉丁化方案). This school of English-based Latin orthographies was developed by Western missionaries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and used to write Bible translations and other educational texts. A representative romanization from this school is the Edkins romanization of Shanghainese.[2]

Another school is the Latin Phonetic Method (吴语拉丁式注音法, French-Wu or Fawu [法吴]). Its use is in decline. It utilizes the similarities between French and Wu phonetics and thus adheres to both IPA and French orthography. It was developed in 2001 by a Shanghai-born surgeon living in Lyon, France.[3][4]

The final, and least used school, is developed by modifying Hanyu pinyin as sanctioned by the State Council. It is the only school developed by professional linguists, mostly working in state-administered universities. While more than 20 competing schemes within this school have been published since the 1980s, the most notable one is the Shanghainese Pinyin (上海话拼音方案, often shortened to Qian's Pin [钱拼]), developed by Qian Nairong in 2006.[5] This school is often used in formally published dictionaries and textbooks compiled by Qian and others.[6][7][8]

Comparison chart


All examples are given in Shanghainese and Suzhounese.


IPA Romanization schemes Characters
Wu Chinese Society Wugniu French-Wu Qian's Pinyin
p p p p b 巴百
ph ph ph p 怕捧
b b b b bh 旁别
m m m m mh 没母
ˀm 'm m mh m 闷美
f f f f f 夫反
v v v v fh 佛犯
ˀv v v vh v 朆/ˀvəɲ⁵³/
t t t t d 多德
th th th t 体通
d d d d dh 地同
n n n n nh, -n 纳努
ˀn 'n n nh ng 囡呢
ȵ ny gn gn nh 尼女
ˀȵ 'ny gn kn n 研妞
l l l l lh 勒路
ˀl 'l l lh l 拎了
ts ts tz z 煮增質
tsʰ tsh ts c 處倉出
s s s s s 书三
z z z z sh 传食
ˀz 'z z zh sh 乳(杭州)/ˀzʉ⁵³/
c c c j 居尖
tɕʰ ch ch ch q 曲青
j j dj jh 求极
ɕ sh sh x x 需血
ʑ zh zh j xh 谢墙
k k k k g 工各
kh kh kh k 苦客
ɡ g g g gh 共搞
ŋ ng ng ng nhg-, -ng 鹅牙
ˀŋ ng ng nk ng 我砑
h h h h h 好黑
ɦ gh / w / y gh / w / y r /w / y hh/wh/yh 红合
ˀɦ rh h 嗨 /ˀɦɛ⁵³/
ˀ -/u/i -/u/i -/u/i -/w/y 恩en乌u衣i迂iu


Shanghainese IPA Suzhounese IPA[9] Romanization schemes Characters
Wu Chinese Society Wugniu French-Wu Qian's Pinyin
a ɑ a a a a
ua ua ua ua ua
ia ia ia ia ia
o o o o au o
io io io io iau io
ɿ(ɨ) ɿ(ɨ) y y y y
- ʮ(ʉ) yu yu y y
i i i i i i
u u u u u u
- əu ou ou u u
y y iu iu ü (y)u
ɛ ɛ ae ae e ae
e e e e e
uae uae ue ue
ɔ æ au au o ao
iau iau io iao
ɤ øʏ eu eu oe ou
iøʏ ieu ieu ioe iou
- ie ie i i
ø ø oe oe eu oe
uoe uoe ueu uoe
ioe ioe ieu ioe
ã ã an an aen an
uan uan uaen uan
ian ian iaen ian
ɑ̃ ɑ̃ aon aon an ang
uɑ̃ uɑ̃ uaon uaon uan uang
iɑ̃ iɑ̃ iaon iaon ian iang
on on on ong
ioŋ ioŋ ion ion ion iong
ən ən en en en eng
uəɲ uəɲ uen uen uen ueng
iɪɲ iɪɲ in in in in
yɪn yən iuin iun ün (y)un
ɐʔ aeh aeq aq ak
uɐʔ uaʔ uaeh uaeq uaq uak
iɐʔ iaʔ iaeh iaeq iaq iak
yɪʔ yaʔ iuaeh iuaeq uiq yuik
ɐʔ ɑʔ ah aq aq ak
uɐʔ uɑʔ uah uaq uaq uak
iɐʔ iɑʔ iah iaq iaq iak
əʔ əʔ eh eq eq ek
uəʔ uəʔ ueh ueq ueq uek
iɪʔ iəʔ ih iq iq ik
yɪʔ yəʔ iuih iuq uiq yuik
oh oq oq ok
ioʔ ioʔ ioh ioq ioq iok
ɦəl əl r er er er
m m m m
n n n n
ŋ̍ ŋ̍ ng ng ng ng


Shanghainese IPA Suzhounese IPA[9] Wenzhounese IPA Romanization schemes Characters
Wu Chinese Society Wugniu French-Wu Qian's Pinyin
˥˧(53) ˥(44) ˧(33) 1 1 / 天听知
˦(22)or˩˩˧(113) ˨˨˦(223) ˨˧(23) 1 2 / 人华词
˦˧˦(434)or˨˨˥(334) ˥˩(51) ˧˥(35) 2 3 -h 可海洗
˨˩˧(213)or˩˩˧(113) - ˧˥(35) 2 4 -h 尾有近
˨˨˥(334) ˥˨˦(523) ˥˨(42) 3 5 -r 去会唱
˩˩˧(113) ˨˧˩(231) ˨˧(23) 3 6 -r 定烂自
˥(55) ˥˧(43) ˨˩˧(213) 4 7 -q 只不结
˩˨(12) ˨˧(23) ˨˩˧(213) 4 8 -q 日绝缚


  1. ^ [1] – Wu chinese (Tones)
  2. ^ "Shanghainese Romanization". 吴语协会. 吴语协会 (Wu Chinese Society). Retrieved 15 May 2024.
  3. ^ 唐骋华; 孔亮 (19 August 2007). "都市年轻人为传承上海方言走到一起". Youth Daily [青年报] (in Chinese). Shanghai. Archived from the original on 29 June 2013.
  4. ^ "吳語拼音草案" (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 4 March 2010.
  5. ^ Qian, Nairong (6 December 2006). "首届国际上海方言学术研讨会审定上海话拼音方案". 北大中文论坛 (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 16 February 2021.
  6. ^ Qian, Nairong (August 2007). 上海话大词典. Shanghai: 上海辞书出版社. ISBN 9787532622481.
  7. ^ Qian, Nairong (September 2013). 新上海人学说上海话. Shanghai: 上海大学出版社. ISBN 9787567108820.
  8. ^ Ding, Dimeng (January 2015). 学说上海话. Shanghai: 上海科技技术文献出版社. ISBN 9787543964181.
  9. ^ a b 刑雯芝 (3 February 2018). Shíyòng Sūzhōuhuà 实用苏州话 [Practical Suzhou Dialect] (in Simplified Chinese, Wu, and English). Peking University Press. ISBN 978-7-301-18998-6.