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Tianjin dialect

Tianjin dialect
Tianjin huà
Native to Urban Tianjin in the People's Republic of China
Region Northeastern China
Native speakers
Approx. 6 million est.  (date missing)[citation needed]
Language codes
ISO 639-3
ISO 639-6 tjin
Glottolog None
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Tianjin dialect (simplified Chinese: 天津话; traditional Chinese: 天津話; pinyin: Tiānjīn Huà) is a Mandarin dialect spoken in the urban area of Tianjin, China. It is comprehensible to speakers of other Mandarin dialects, though its greatest deviation from the others lies in its individual tones, and the lack of retroflex consonants. The regional characteristics make the dialect an important part of the Tianjin identity, and sharply contrasts itself to the dialect of nearby Beijing, despite relatively similar phonology.


The Tianjin dialect is classified under Jilu Mandarin, a subdivision of Mandarin Chinese also spoken in the provinces of Hebei and Shandong. Despite being a neighbour of Beijing, Tianjin dialect sounds very different from Beijing dialect, which is the basis for putonghua, the national standard used in the mainland.

The tones of Tianjin dialect correspond to those of Beijing dialect (and hence Putonghua) as follows:

Tone name 1 Yin Ping 2 Yang Ping 3 Shang 4 Qu
Tianjin ˨˩ (21) ˧˥ (35) ˩˩˧ (113) ˥˧ (53)
Beijing ˥ (55) ˧˥ (35) ˨˩˦ (214) ˥˩ (51)

The differences are minor except for the first tone: Where it is high and level in Beijing, it is low and falling in Tianjin. All words with the first tone, including the name "Tianjin", are affected, giving the Tianjin dialect a downward feel to people from Beijing.

Tianjin dialect also includes four tone sandhi rules, which outnumber Beijing Mandarin's ones. Here they are:

  1. Tone 1 + Tone 1 → Tone 3-Tone 1: 天津 |tiān jīn| is pronounced /tǐanjīn/ (using Pinyin tone diacritics)
  2. Tone 3 + Tone 3 → Tone 2-Tone 3: 水果 |shuǐ guǒ| is pronounced /shuíguǒ/
  3. Tone 4 + Tone 4 → Tone 1-Tone 4: 現在 |xiàn zài| is pronounced /xiānzài/
  4. Tone 4 + Tone 1 → Tone 2-Tone 1: 上班 |shàng bān| is pronounced /shángbān/[1][2]

There are some other patterns that differentiate Tianjin dialect from the Beijing dialect. One is the pronunciation of 饿 (餓) as (臥) instead of è.

Lastly, the Tianjin dialect lacks the retroflex consonants (捲舌音) prevalent in Beijing, not unlike Taiwanese Mandarin. Thus, zh (ㄓ) becomes z (ㄗ), sh (ㄕ) becomes s (ㄙ), ch (ㄔ) becomes c (ㄘ), and r (ㄖ) becomes y (一) — that is, 人 is pronounced yěn instead of rén, and 讓 is pronounced yàng (樣) instead of ràng. However, the use of the -er (儿) diminutive is common in Tianjin dialect, as it is throughout the north and northeast.

Chinese speakers commonly stereotype the Tianjin dialect as aggressive- or confrontational-sounding, though it is not difficult for speakers of other Mandarin dialects to understand.

See also


  1. Chen, Matthew (2000). Tone Sandhi. UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 105–149. ISBN 0-521-652723. 
  2. Bao, Zhiming (1999). The structure of Tone. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 59–61. ISBN 0-19-511880-4.