Taihu Wu

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Taihu Wu
Native to People's Republic of China
Region South Jiangsu province, North Zhejiang province, southeastern Anhui, and Shanghai. Linguistic exclave in Cangnan county in southern Zhejiang province.
Native speakers
unknown (47 million cited 1987)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3
ISO 639-6 taiu
Glottolog taih1244[2]

Taihu Wu (吳語太湖片) or Northern Wu dialects (北部吳語) are a group of Wu dialects spoken over much of southern part of Jiangsu province, including Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou, the southern part of Nantong, Jingjiang and Danyang; the municipality of Shanghai; and the northern part of Zhejiang province, including Hangzhou, Shaoxing, Ningbo, Huzhou, and Jiaxing. A notable exception is the dialect of the town of Jinxiang, which is a linguistic exclave of Taihu Wu in Zhenan Min-speaking Cangnan county of Wenzhou prefecture in Zhejiang province. This group makes up the largest population among all Wu speakers. The subdialects of this region are mutually intelligible with each other.[citation needed][dubious ]


Linguistic affinity has also been used as a tool for regional identity and politics in the Jiangbei and Jiangnan regions. While the city of Yangzhou was the center of trade, flourishing and prosperous, it was considered part of Jiangnan, which was known to be wealthy, even though Yangzhou was north of the Yangzi river. Once Yangzhou's wealth and prosperity were gone, it was then considered to be part of Jiangbei, the "backwater". After Yangzhou was removed from Jiangnan, its residents decided to no longer speak Jianghuai Mandarin, which was the dialect of Yangzhou. They instead replaced Mandarin with Wu and spoke Taihu Wu dialects. In Jiangnan itself, multiple subdialects of Wu competed for the position of prestige dialect.[3]

List of Taihu Wu dialect subgroups

Su–Jia–Hu (Suzhou–Jiaxing–Huzhou) 蘇嘉湖小片

  • Su–Hu–Jia (Suzhou–Shanghai–Jiaxing) 蘇滬嘉小片 – 23 million speakers in 1987[1]
  • Tiaoxi 苕溪小片 (now considered to be a subbranch or sister group to Suzhou–Shanghai–Jiaxing) – 3 million speakers in 1987[1]

Northwestern Wu

  • Piling 毗陵小片 (spoken in Jiangsu and Anhui provinces) – 8 million speakers in 1987[1]
  • Hangzhou 杭州小片 – 1.2 million speakers in 1987[1]

Northern Zhejiang

  • Lin–Shao 臨紹小片 – 7.8 million speakers in 1987[1]
  • Yongjiang 甬江小片 or Mingzhou 明州小片 – 4 million speakers in 1987[1]
  • Jinxiang dialect 金鄉話 (appears to be an isolate, but closely related to the Taihu Wu varieties of Northern Zhejiang.)

List of Taihu Wu dialects


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Sinolect.org
  2. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Taihu". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Dorothy Ko (1994). Teachers of the inner chambers: women and culture in seventeenth-century China (illustrated, annotated ed.). Stanford University Press. p. 21. ISBN 0-8047-2359-1. Retrieved 23 September 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>