Tianjin dialect

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Tianjin dialect
Tianjin huà
Native to People's Republic of China
Region City of Tianjin
Native speakers
Approx. 6 million est.[citation needed]
Language codes
ISO 639-3
ISO 639-6 tjin
Glottolog tian1238[1]
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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 city 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 City identity, and sharply contrasts itself to the dialect of nearby Beijing, despite relatively similar phonology.


The Tianjin dialect is classified under Beijing Mandarin, a subdivision of Mandarin Chinese dialects, but has strong influences from Jilu Mandarin, spoken in Hebei and Shandong provinces. Despite Tianjin being a neighbour of Beijing, Tianjin dialect tonal system is characterised by a low tone (11) and very different from Beijing dialect, which is a high tone (55) and 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/[2][3]

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[edit]


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Tianjin Mandarin". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  2. ^ Chen, Matthew (2000). Tone Sandhi. UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 105–149. ISBN 0-521-652723. 
  3. ^ Bao, Zhiming (1999). The structure of Tone. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 59–61. ISBN 0-19-511880-4.