Waxiang Chinese

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Region western Hunan
Native speakers
300,000 (1995)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 wxa
Glottolog waxi1236
Dialect map of Hunan.
Waxianhua is the bit of dark blue in the medium blue (SW Mandarin) just above the red (Xiang)

Waxiang (simplified Chinese: 瓦乡话; traditional Chinese: 瓦鄉話; pinyin: wǎxiānghuà) is a divergent variety of Chinese,[2][3] spoken by the Waxiang people, an unrecognized ethnic minority group in the northwestern part of Hunan province, China. Waxiang is a distinct language, very different from its surrounding Southwestern Mandarin, Xiang and Qo Xiong languages.

Waxiang may share some lexical innovations[which?] with Bai, suggesting a possible Macro-Bai substratum.[4][5][unreliable source?] It has also been suggested that perhaps Waxiang is a mixed language of Xiang and Miao.[citation needed]


Waxianghua is found in Luxi, Guzhang and Yongshun counties in Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Zhangjiajie prefecture-level city (in Dayong 大庸), and Chenxi, Xupu and Yuanling counties in Huaihua prefecture-level city. Neighboring languages include Southwestern Mandarin, Xiang Chinese, Tujia, Qo Xiong, and Hm Nai.

  • "hua" means speech in Mandarin Chinese,
  • "xiang" means rural in Mandarin Chinese
  • "wa" means speech in Southern Chinese dialects.

The word Wa 瓦 is only a phonetic transcription.

Wu & Shen (2010) report Waxianghua to be spoken in the following villages.

  • Yuanling County: Qingshuiping 清水坪, Maxipu 麻溪铺, Taichang 太常, Wusu 乌宿, Liangshuijing 凉水井
  • Luxi County: Basheping 八什坪, Shangbao 上堡, Liangjiatan 梁家谭, Baisha 白沙镇
  • Guzhang County: Linchang 林场 of Gaowangjie 高望界, Gaofeng 高峰 (in Taojin 淘金村, Beishuiping 北水坪, etc.), Yantouzhai 岩头寨, Shanzao 山枣, Yezhu 野竹, Hepeng 河蓬, Caotan 草潭
  • Chenxi County: Tianwan 田湾, Banqiao 板桥, Chuanxiyi 船溪驿, Tanjiafang 谭家坊
  • Xupu County: Rangjiaxi 让家溪, Daweixi 大渭溪, Muxi 木溪
  • Yongshun County: Limin 里明村, Zhenxi 镇溪, Xiaoxi 小溪 of Wangcun Township 王村镇

Conservative features

Waxiang preserves a number of features of Old Chinese not found in most modern varieties of Chinese, such as the initial *l- (which became a voiced dental stop in Middle Chinese):[6]

  • Guzhang li6, MC dijH > "earth, ground"
  • Guzhang lu6, MC dajH > "big"
  • Guzhang li2, MC drij > chí "slow"
  • Guzhang luʔ8, MC duwk > "read"

Waxiang also has some cases of /z/ for Old Chinese *r- (which became l- in Middle Chinese):[7]

  • Guzhang za2, MC lij > "pear tree, pear"
  • Guzhang zɛ2, MC loj > lái "come"

Like Proto-Min, it has affricate initials in a number of words where Middle Chinese has sy-:[8]

  • Guzhang tsu3, pMin *tšyiB, MC sywijX > shuǐ "water"
  • Guzhang tɕiəu1, pMin *tšyA, MC syo > shū "writing"


  1. Waxiang at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Baxter, William; Sagart, Laurent (2014). Old Chinese: A New Reconstruction. Oxford University Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-19-994537-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Kurpaska, Maria (2010). Chinese Language(s): A Look Through the Prism of "The Great Dictionary of Modern Chinese Dialects". Walter de Gruyter. p. 73. ISBN 978-3-11-021914-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_8967627a0101rnbv.html
  5. http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_8967627a0101du6j.html
  6. Baxter & Sagart (2014), p. 109.
  7. Baxter & Sagart (2014), p. 110.
  8. Baxter & Sagart (2014), p. 93.
  • Wu Yunji, Shen Ruiqing [伍云姬、沈瑞清]. 2010. An Investigative Report of Waxianghua of Guzhang County, Xiangxi Prefecture [湘西古丈瓦乡话调查报告]. Shanghai Educational Press [上海教育出版社].
  • Yang Wei [杨蔚]. 1999. A study of Yuanling Xianghua [沅陵乡话研究]. Changsha: Hunan Educational Press [湖南敎育出版社].
  • Yang Wei [杨蔚]. 2010. Xianghua comparative phonology [湘西乡话语音研究]. Guangzhou: Guangdong Press [广东省出版集团].

External links