Northern Min
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Northern Min
Northern Min
Min Bei
Native toChina
RegionNanping (northwest Fujian)
Native speakers
(2,191,000 cited 1987)[1]
Kienning Colloquial Romanized (Jian'ou dialect)
Language codes
Min dialect map.svg
  Northern Min
Nanping county-level divisions.png
Counties of Nanping prefecture, Fujian

Northern Min (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: M?nb?i), is a group of mutually intelligible[] Min varieties spoken in Nanping prefecture of northwestern Fujian.

Classification and distribution

Early classifications of varieties of Chinese, such as those of Li Fang-Kuei in 1937 and Yuan Jiahua in 1960, divided Min into Northern and Southern subgroups.[2][3] However, in a 1963 report on a survey of Fujian, Pan Maoding and colleagues argued that the primary split was between inland and coastal groups.[3][4] In a reclassification that has been followed by most dialectologists since, they restricted the term Northern Min to inland dialects of Nanping prefecture, and classified the coastal dialects of Fuzhou and Ningde as Eastern Min.[5][6]

According to the Language Atlas of China, Northern Min varieties are spoken throughout the counties of Wuyishan (formerly Chong'an), Jianyang, Jian'ou, Zhenghe and Songxi, in the southern part of Pucheng County and the northeastern part of Shunchang County, and in Yanping District except for the Nanping dialect of the urban area of Nanping, which is an island of an isolated Mandarin dialect of uncertain affinity.[7][8] The Jianyang and Jian'ou dialects are often taken as representative.

Although coastal Min varieties can be derived from a proto-language with four series of stop or affricate initials at each point of articulation (e.g. /t/, /t?/, /d/ and /d?/), Northern Min varieties contain traces of two further series, one voiced and the other voiceless.[9][10][11] In Northern Min dialects, these initials have a different tonal development from other stops and affricates, though the details vary between varieties. Moreover, although in Jian'ou and Zhenghe these initials yield voiceless unaspirated initials (as in coastal varieties), they yield voiced sonorants or the zero initial in Jianyang and Wuyishan.[12] Because of these reflexes, Jerry Norman called these initials "softened" stops and affricates.[13]


  1. ^ Wurm et al. (1987), p. B-12.
  2. ^ Kurpaska (2010), p. 49.
  3. ^ a b Norman (1988), p. 233.
  4. ^ Branner (2000), pp. 98-100.
  5. ^ Handel (2003), p. 48.
  6. ^ Kurpaska (2010), p. 52.
  7. ^ Wurm et al. (1987), Map B12.
  8. ^ Kurpaska (2010), p. 69.
  9. ^ Norman (1973), pp. 224-224, 228-229.
  10. ^ Norman (1988), pp. 228-230.
  11. ^ Branner (2000), pp. 100-104.
  12. ^ Handel (2003), p. 56.
  13. ^ Norman (1973), pp. 228-231.
  • Branner, David Prager (2000), Problems in Comparative Chinese Dialectology -- the Classification of Miin and Hakka, Trends in Linguistics series, 123, Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, ISBN 978-3-11-015831-1.[permanent dead link]
  • Handel, Zev (2003), "Northern Min tone values and the reconstruction of 'softened initials'" (PDF), Language and Linguistics, 4 (1): 47-84.
  • Kurpaska, Maria (2010), Chinese Language(s): A Look Through the Prism of "The Great Dictionary of Modern Chinese Dialects", Walter de Gruyter, ISBN 978-3-11-021914-2.
  • Norman, Jerry (1973), "Tonal development in Min", Journal of Chinese Linguistics, 1 (2): 222-238, JSTOR 23749795.
  • —— (1988), Chinese, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-29653-3.
  • Wurm, Stephen Adolphe; Li, Rong; Baumann, Theo; Lee, Mei W. (1987), Language Atlas of China, Longman, ISBN 978-962-359-085-3.

Further reading

  • Akitani, Hiroyuki ?. 2008. Minbeiqu sanxianshi fangyan yanjiu ?. Taipei: Academia Sinica. ISBN 9789860157451 (Documents three Northern Min dialects in detail: Shibei of Pucheng County; Zhenqian of Zhenghe County; Dikou of Jian'ou City)
  • Fujian Normal University Research Institute . n.d. Mindong, Bei fangyan diaocha ziliao huibian (part 1) 1?. Fujian Normal University Research Institute , Dialectology group, Chinese language department .
  • Huang Chin-wen . 2001. / Language contact and the phonological changes in North Min. Taipei: National Taiwan University.
  • Ma Chongqi . 2014. / A phonological study of the manuscripts of Northern Fujian Dialect rhyme books in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Beijing: Commercial Press. ISBN 978-7-100-07351-6
  • Pan Weishui . 2007. Minbei fangyan yanjiu . Fuzhou: Fujian Educational Press ?.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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