On Pinghua and Yue: Some Historical and Linguistic Perspectives

In: Crossroads
Hilário de Sousa EHESS – CRLAO Aubervilliers France

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Pinghua 平話 is a Sinitic dialect group spoken in Guangxi in southern China. Within Chinese linguistics, there have been many debates on its affiliation. Pinghua is associated with the earliest Han Chinese migrants in Guangxi, but in terms of number of speakers in Guangxi Pinghua has been overtaken by Yue, Southwestern Mandarin, and Hakka. Pinghua is primarily associated with the Han Chinese migrants who entered Guangxi through Hunan, whereas Yue is primarily associated with those who entered Guangdong through Jiangxi. Yue speakers have subsequently spread westward in large numbers from Guangdong to Guangxi. Linguistically, the Pinghua dialects sit on a dialect continuum with the non-Cantonese Yue dialects in Guangxi. On the other hand, the Cantonese enclaves in Guangxi are the results of Cantonese people moving directly from the Pearl River Delta to Guangxi within the last 150 years or so.

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