Wiktionary:About Chinese/Wu

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Wu is a subdivision of Chinese, spoken by about 80 million people. It is native to the Jiangnan and Zhejiang regions of China. Historically, the most influential dialect was the Suzhou dialect (zh). Since the rapid modernisation of Shanghai in the 20th century, the Shanghai dialect (zh) has gradually eclipsed the prestigious status of the Suzhou dialect. Here in Wiktionary, Wu is represented by Shanghainese Wu, and notated by a romanisation system as described below.

Initials and finals[edit]

WT Romanisation Qian's
p b p /p/
ph p ph /pʰ/
b bh b /b̻/
m m m /m/
'm 'm /ʔm/
f f f /f/
v fh v /v̻/
t d t /t/
th t th /tʰ/
d dh d /d̻/
n n n /n/
'n 'n /ʔn/
l l l /l/
'l 'l /ʔl/
ts z ts /t͡s/
tsh c tsh /t͡sʰ/
s s s /s/
z sh z /z̻/
j j c(i)
q q ch(i)
jj jh j(i) /d̥͡ʑ/
ny ny ny /ȵ/
'ny 'ny /ʔȵ/
x x s(i)
xx xh z(i)
k g k /k/
kh k kh /kʰ/
g gh g /g̊/
ng ng ng /ŋ/
'ng 'ng /ʔŋ/
h h h /h/
hh wh gh

[1] Don't forget to change the final to i-, u-, y-.

WT Romanisation Qian's
a a a /ᴀ/
o o o /o/
au ao au /ɔ/
eu eu /ɜ/
e e e /ᴇ/
oe oe oe /ø/
i i,yi i,ie,y,ye /i/
ia ia,ya ia,ya /iᴀ/
iau iao,yao iau,yau /iɔ/
ieu ieu,yeu /iɜ/
u u u /ɯ/
ua ua ua,wa /ɯᴀ/
ue ue ue,we /ɯᴇ/
uoe uoe,woe /ɯø/
y yu iu,yu /y/
yoe ioe,yoe /yø/
an ang an /ã/
aan ang aon /ɑ̃/
en en en /ə̆ɲ/
on ong on /ʊ̆ŋ/
aq ak ah /ᴀʔ/
oq ok oh /ʊ̆ʔ/
eq ek eh /ə̆ʔ/
ian ian,yan /iã/
iaan iaon,yaon /iɑ̃/
in in in,yin /ɪ̆ɲ/
ion ion,yon /iʊ̆ŋ/
iaq iah,yah /iᴀʔ/
ioq ioh,yoh /iʊ̆ʔ/
iq ik ih,yih /iɪ̆ʔ/
uan uan,wan /ɯã/
uaan uaon,waon /ɯɑ̃/
un un,wun /ɯə̆ɲ/
uaq uah,wah /ɯᴀʔ/
ueq ueh,weh /ɯə̆ʔ/
yn iuin,yuin /ʏ̆ɲ/
yq uih,yuih /ɥɪ̆ʔ/
er er r /əɻ/
r y y /z̩/
Syllabic consonants
WT Romanisation Qian's
mm m /m̩/
ngg n ng /ŋ̍/


Unlike other varieties such as Beijing Mandarin (right-prominent, limited but systematic), Guangzhou Cantonese (rare and non-systematic, but with certain patterns) or Taiwanese Hokkien (right-prominent, widespread and systematic), the tone sandhi rules in Shanghainese comprise two parts - a left-prominent word tone sandhi rule, and a right-prominent phrase tone sandhi rule. Words of fossilised nature follow the first rule, and analysable phrases (usually of verb + noun composition) follow the second rule.

For the former, the tone sandhi pattern is entirely dependent on (i.e. predictable from) the tonal category of the first syllable and independent of the tonal categories of the other syllables. There are five tonal categories (or "tones") in new-style (中派與新派) Shanghainese, a reduction from six in old-style (老派) Shanghainese. The tonal category a character belongs to can essentially be inferred from its Middle Chinese pronunciation, or pronunciations from other Chinese varieties. Middle Chinese had four tones - level, rising, departing and checked. In the development to Shanghainese, each of the four Middle Chinese tones split in two, conditioned by the voicing (voiceless - dark, voiced - light) of the initial of the character. Three of the resultant eight tonal categories then merged with other categories, producing five tonal categories in total.

Tone number Tone name
(tonal category)
Voicing Tone value Example characters Ancestral MC tones
1 dark level
voiceless ˥˧ 53 漿 dark level
2 dark departing
voiceless ˧˦ 34 dark rising, dark departing
3 light departing
voiced ˩˧ 23 light level, light rising, light departing
4 dark checked
voiceless ʔ˥ 55 dark checked
5 light checked
voiced ʔ˩˨ 12 light checked

Each of these five categories then has a tone sandhi pattern, depending on the number of syllables in the word.

Left-prominent word tone sandhi patterns
Tonal category Monosyllabics Disyllabics Trisyllabics Tetrasyllabics Pentasyllabics
1. Dark level type 53 55+21 55+33+21 55+33+33+21 55+33+33+33+21
2. Dark departing type 34 33+44 33+55+21 33+55+33+21 33+55+33+33+21
3. Light departing type 23 22+44 22+55+21 22+55+33+21 22+55+33+33+21
4. Dark checked type 55 33+44 33+55+21 33+55+33+21 33+55+33+33+21
5. Light checked type 12 11+23 11+22+23 11+22+22+23

For Wu romanisations in the template {{zh-pron}}, the romanisation is made up of: tonal category of the first character (one-digit number) + romanisations of the initial and final of each character (separated by spaces).

Right-prominent phrase tone sandhi is currently not enabled.

Minidict to Wiktionary tone conversion (minidict numbers shouldn't be used but 平 (level) 上 (rising) 去 (departing) and 入 (checked)

Tone (MiniDict) Voicing of initial Tone category
voiced 3
voiceless 1
voiced 3
voiceless 2
voiced 3
voiceless 2
voiced 5
voiceless 4



  • For checking the pronunciation of words: Comprehensive Dictionary of Shanghainese (《上海话大词典》) - uses IPA notations throughout the book
  • For checking the pronunciation of characters: Wu Chinese MiniDict
    Note that this website uses a different romanisation system than the one implemented here. Their romanisation scheme aims to be a pan-Wu scheme, and occasionally describes the phonology of Shanghainese unintuitively.
    Correspondences with WT romanisation:
    Initials (MiniDict = WT): c = j, ch = q, j = jj, sh = x, zh = xx, si = xi, zi = xxi, gh = hh
    Null-initials followed by glides 'y-', 'w-' are pronounced with the 'hh' initial. i.e. 譯 yih = hhiq
    Finals (MiniDict = WT): ou = u, iu = y, yu = r, ie = i, aon = aan, iuin = yn, -h = -q, aeh = eq, iuih = yq, r = er, -iu- = -y-, ng = ngg, m = mm
    Tones: 平 (level), 上 (rising), 去 (departing), 入 (checked). To know whether it is dark or light, check the voicing of the initial. Voiced initials = light, voiceless = dark.

See also[edit]

If unsure, hassle User:Wyang or User:Jamesjiao.