Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hohhot dialect

Hohhot dialect is a dialect of , one of the subdivisions of spoken Chinese. It is colloquially referred to by native speakers as Hūshì-huà or Cǐdì-huà . It is spoken in the city of Hohhot, in Inner Mongolia, China.

The city's "dialect" is not a singular entity. People in the Jiu-cheng area, especially the Muslim Hui minority speak in a dialect very similar to what is heard in neighbouring Shanxi province and is undoubtedly a branch of the Jin linguistic group. The Mandarin dialect in Xincheng District is a branched combination of the Jin language, Hebei dialect, Northeastern Mandarin, and elements of the Manchu language, caused by the migration patterns to the region. It has thus created an interesting and distinct linguistic style. The two spoken forms of the Hohhot "dialect" is only partially intelligible to each other.

Like most Jin dialects, the Jiucheng Hohhot dialect uses the glottal stop, and is mutually intelligible with many spoken languages in neighboring Shanxi. In its full-fledged form, however, it is only partially intelligible with Standard Mandarin speakers. Arguably the most eccentric sound is the "nge" sound used to express "I". Many expressions in the dialect has crossed over itself with the Mandarin taught in schools to create "Hohhot Mandarin", or what is commonly heard on the street.

Notable features of the Hohhot dialect include:
*A special intonation for yes-no questions, which is characterized by a prolonged contour at the end of the sentence.
*Mandarin completive "ba" is often changed into "và" especially in suggestions.
*Renjia, an expression used to refer to someone in third person, is pronounced "niá".
*The word that corresponds to the Mandarin "wǒ" is pronounced "é" or "wě", which is possibly a weak form of the "nge" form. A vulgar slang term for "I' is "yé 爷 ", which is used mostly by less well-educated men, and those who want to sound tough and manly.
*Notable of ''p'', ''t'', and ''k'' sounds.

The above elements are generally seen in the Jin sub-branch of "raw" Hohhot dialect, which has its own exclusive elements:
*The absence of the "zh", "ch", and "sh" sounds. They are respectively changed into "z", "c" and "s".
*The Mandarin "r" is non-existent. It is replaced with a soft "z" sound.
*"What", , is generally pronounced "seng", or "sheng" by local people.
*Na-li, the expression for "over there" is often pronounced "na-ha-r".


The dialect spoken in Wuchuan County, about an 60km north of the city, has a recognizably different flavour. The same applies to the dialect in Siziwang Banner. The dialect around Tolmud Left Banner, west of the city, is significantly different phonologically, but lexically similar.

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