Wiktionary:About Wu/Northern Wu

Northern Wu, also known as Taihu Wu, is the largest branch of the Wu Chinese languages, spoken by around half of the Wu speakerbase, in southern Jiangsu, Shanghai, and northern Zhejiang. Many cities, such as Suzhou (the cultural capital of the region), Shanghai (the economic centre and largest city of China), and Hangzhou (the Southern Song capital), are home to Northern Wu varieties.

Although no official romanization system is endorsed by any government, on Wiktionary, both of these lects are notated in Wugniu, which is the most common standardised system used in online circles nowadays. Wugniu is also available in a wide variety of localities, and correspondences between different lects tend to have the same glyph (eg. Shanghainese /ɔ/ and Suzhounese /æ/ both being "au"). Slight modifications have been made regarding tone notation, as Wugniu does not officially have a way to notate tone sandhi. The legacy Wiktionary romanization for Shanghainese is accessible in the expanded pronunciation infobox, and its use is now not recommended.



As most Northern Wu lects share the same set of initials, the following will be a pan-Northern Wu table. Irregularities will be listed in the footnotes. Discrepancies between the legacy Wiktionary system and Wugniu for Shanghainese are shown in bold.

Wugniu Wiktionary
Voiced? Qian's
IPA Examples
p p no b p /p/
ph ph no p ph /pʰ/
b b yes bh b /b/
m m [note 1] yes m m /m/
f f no f f /f/
v v yes fh v /v/
t t no d t /t/
th th no t th /tʰ/
d d yes dh d /d/
n n yes n n /n/
l l yes l l /l/
ts ts no z ts /t͡s/
tsh tsh no c tsh /t͡sʰ/
dz[note 2] n/a yes n/a dz /d͡z/
s s no s s /s/
z z yes sh z /z/
c j no j c, ts /t͡ɕ/
ch q no q ch, tsh /t͡ɕʰ/
j jj yes jh j /d͡ʑ/
gn ny yes ny ny[note 3] /n̠ʲ/
sh x no x s, sh /ɕ/
zh[note 4] xx yes xh z, zh /ʑ/
k k no g k /k/
kh kh no k kh /kʰ/
g g yes gh g /ɡ/
ng ng yes ng ng /ŋ/
h h no h h /h/
no hh - /ʔ/
gh[note 5] hh yes wh gh[note 6] /ɦ/
  1. ^ The legacy Wiktionary and MiniDict romanisations specify that sonorants (m, n, l, ny, ng) that appear with dark tones should be written with an apostrophe in front of it ('m, 'n, 'l, 'ny, 'ng). This is not found in Wugniu.
  2. ^ This phone is only found in Hangzhounese.
  3. ^ Absorbs the following i glide.
  4. ^ This phone is only found in Shanghainese.
  5. ^ Changes to y and w if the syllable has an i or u offglide.
  6. ^ The glyph change found in Wugniu is also present in MiniDict.



Finals in Northern Wu lects vary from lect to lect. The following are tables for Shanghainese, Suzhounese and Hangzhounese finals. For other lects, refer to Module:wuu-pron/data.

Finals in Shanghainese
Wugniu Wiktionary
IPA Examples
a a a a /a̠/
o o o o /o/
au au ao au /ɔ/
eu eu eu /ɤ/
e e e e, ai, ae /e/
oe oe oe oe /ø/
i i i i, ie /i/
ia ia ia ia /ia/
iau iau iao iau /iɔ/
ieu ieu ieu /iɤ/
ie ie ie iae /ie/ 廿
u u u u /u/
ua ua ua ua /ua/
ue ue ue ue /ue/
uoe uoe uoe /uø/
iu y yu iu /y/
ioe yoe ioe /yø/
an an ang an /ã/
aon aan ang aon /ɑ̃/
en en en en /ən/
on on ong on /oŋ/
aq aq ak ah /aʔ/
oq oq ok oh /oʔ/
eq eq ek eh /əʔ/
ian ian ian /iã/
iaon iaan iaon /iɑ̃/ (白)
in in in in /in/ (白)(白)
ion ion ion /ioŋ/
iaq iaq iah /iaʔ/
ioq ioq ioh /ioʔ/
iq iq ik ih /iɪʔ/
uan uan uan /uã/ ~火~火
uaon uaan uaon /uɑ̃/ 广
uen un uen /uəŋ/
uaq uaq uah /uaʔ/
ueq ueq ueh /uəʔ/
iun yn iuin /yn/
iuq yq iuih /yɪʔ/
er er er r /əl/ (文)(文)(文)(文)(文)(文)
y r y y /z̩/
m mm m /m̩/ (白)(白)~沒(白)(白)~没
n nn n /n̩/ ~奶~奶
ng ngg n ng /ŋ̍/ (白)(白)(白)(白)(白)(白)
Finals in Suzhounese
Wugniu Wu-Chinese
IPA Examples
a a /ɑ/ (白)
o o /o/
au au /æ/
eu eu /øy/
e e /e/
oe oe /ø/
ie ie /ɪ/
ou ou /əu/
i i /i/
ia ia /iɑ/ (文)
io io /io/ (白)(白)
ieu ieu /ʏ/
ioe ioe /iø/
u u /u/
iu iu /y/ (白)(白)
an an /ã/ (白)(白)
aon aon /ɑ̃/
en en /ən/
on on /oŋ/
aeq aeh /aʔ/ (白)(白)
aq ah /ɑʔ/ (白)
eq eh /əʔ/
oq oh /oʔ/
ian ian /iã/
iaon iaon /iɑ̃/ (白)
in in /in/
ion ion /ioŋ/
iaeq iaeh /iaʔ/ (文)(文)(文)(文)(文)(文)
iaq iah /iɑʔ/
iq ih /iəʔ/
ioq ioh /ioʔ/
iun iuin /yn/
iuaeq - /yaʔ/
iuq iuih /yəʔ/
er r /əl/ (文)(文)(文)(文)(文)(文)
y y /z̩/
yu yu /z̩ʷ/ (白)
m m /m̩/ (白)~沒(白)~没
n n /n̩/ ~篤~笃
ng ng /ŋ̍/ (白)(白)(白)(白)(白)(白)
Finals in Hangzhounese
Wugniu Wu-Chinese
IPA Examples
a a /ɑ/
e e /ɛ/
au au /ɔ/
o o /o/
eu ei /ey/
ei ei /ei/
i i /i/ 西
ia ia /iɑ/
ie ie /iɛ/
iau iau /iɔ/
ieu iu /iø/
u u /u/
ua ua /uɑ/
/zʷɑ/ ~雜技~杂技
ue ue /uɛ/
uo uo /uo/ 動詞动词
uei uei /ui/
en en /en/
aen e /ẽ̞/
an an /ɑŋ/
on on /oŋ/
in in /in/
ien ie /iẽ̞/
ian ian /iɑŋ/
ion ion /ioŋ/
uen uen /un/
uan uan /uɑŋ/
iun iuin /yn/
uon uon /uõ/
aq eh /ɑʔ/
eq eh /əʔ/
oq oh /oʔ/
iaq ih /iɑʔ/
iq ih /iəʔ/
ioq ioh /ioʔ/
uaq ueh /uɑʔ/
iuq iuih /yəʔ/
er er /əl/
y y /z̩/
yu yu /z̩ʷ/
m m /m̩/ ~媽~妈
n n /n̩/ ~娘~娘
  • eu is only found in the speech of elderly Hangzhounese speakers. When -eu is to be specified, -ei must also appear in the input and a note must be made of the difference. See .
  • -u- and -iu- glides become fricated (/zʷ/) after sibilants.
  • MiniDict merges a few more rimes that are not merged on Wugniu. Please exercise caution.



Unlike other varieties such as Beijing Mandarin (right-prominent, limited but systematic), Guangzhou Cantonese (rare and non-systematic, but with certain patterns) or Taiwanese Hokkien (right-prominent, widespread and systematic), the tone sandhi rules in Northern Wu comprise two parts—a left-prominent word tone sandhi rule, and a right-prominent phrase tone sandhi rule. Words of fossilised nature follow the first rule, and analysable phrases (usually of verb + noun composition) follow the second rule.

For Northern Wu romanizations in the template {{zh-pron}}, the romanisation is made up of the sandhi chain's tone value (often the same as the tone category of the first character), followed by romanizations of the initial and final of each character (separated by spaces); 6zaon he would be the input for 上海 (6zaon-he) in Shanghainese. If the underlying tone category of a syllable is not the same as the sandhi chain's realization, the underlying tone is written to the right of the syllable; 6veq8 khu i would be the input for 可以 (6veq8-khu-i) in Shanghainese. This is largely only used in Suzhounese, though note that in Shanghainese, the negator (8veq) uses tone 6's sandhi chain.

Wugniu's tone categories span from 1 to 8 for all lects, though not all are used in every lect. These numbers correspond to the four Middle Chinese tones—level, rising, departing and checked—and are further split in two based on voicing (voiceless—dark, voiced—light) of the initial of the character.

Level Rising Departing Checked
Dark 1 3 5 7
Light 2 4 6 8

Right-prominent sandhi can be inputted through the use of +: 6ne+3hau for 倷好 in Suzhounese.

0 forces a null tone onto a syllable, and - forces a mid-tone onto a syllable. These are both useful in usage examples and idioms, where tone nullification often occurs based on syntax.



There are five tone categories (or "tones") in Middle and New (中派與新派) Shanghainese, a reduction from the six to eight in Old (老派) Shanghainese. The tone category a character belongs to can essentially be inferred from its Middle Chinese pronunciation, or pronunciations from other Chinese varieties. Middle Chinese had four tones—level, rising, departing and checked. In the development to Shanghainese, each of the four Middle Chinese tones split in two, conditioned by the voicing (voiceless—dark, voiced—light) of the initial of the character. Three of the resultant eight tone categories then merged with other categories, producing five tone categories in total today.

Several of these tone categories are non-phonemic; that is, they are predictable from the voicing of the initial consonant and from whether the syllable is checked (ending in a glottal stop). Only tones 1 and 5 are contrastive: they both occur in syllables with voiceless initials and no final glottal stop.

Wugniu tone number Legacy tone number Tone name
(tone category)
Voicing Tone value Example characters Ancestral MC tones
1 1 dark level
voiceless ˥˧ 53 漿 dark level
5 2 dark departing
voiceless ˧˦ 34 dark rising, dark departing
6 3 light departing
voiced ˨˧ 23 light level, light rising, light departing
7 4 dark checked
voiceless ˥ʔ 55 dark checked
8 5 light checked
voiced ˩˨ʔ 12 light checked

Left-prominent tone sandhi (word sandhi)


Each of these five categories then has a tone sandhi pattern, depending on the number of syllables in the word. In Shanghainese, left-prominent sandhi patterns are always analysed to be entirely dependent on (ie. predictable from) the tone of the first syllable (except (8veq)), and as such, subsequent syllables' tones are unmarked.

Left-prominent word tone sandhi patterns
Tonal category Monosyllabics Disyllabics Trisyllabics Tetrasyllabics Pentasyllabics
1. Dark level (1) 53 55+21 55+33+21 55+33+33+21 55+33+33+33+21
2. Dark departing (5) 34 33+44 33+55+21 33+55+33+21 33+55+33+33+21
3. Light departing (6) 23 22+44 22+55+21 22+55+33+21 22+55+33+33+21
4. Dark checked (7) 55 33+44 33+55+21 33+55+33+21 33+55+33+33+21
5. Light checked (8) 12 11+23 11+22+23 11+22+22+23

Right-prominent tone sandhi (phrase sandhi)


When words combine form a phrase, the following right-prominent sandhi rules apply. In short, when the word A in appears non-finally in a phrase, its last syllable (A-x) changes to a flat (level) tone. The tone sandhi value that syllable A-x changes to is conditioned by three factors: (1) the tonal category of syllable A-x, (2) the number of syllables in word A, and if the number of syllables in A is 1 – (3) whether word A is "tightly associated" with the word preceding word A. The exact realization of the phenomenon varies from person to person, and as such, right-prominent sandhi is only visible in the IPA realization of the input.

Word undergoing sandhi (i.e. word A) Tonal category of last syllable of word undergoing sandhi (i.e. syllable A-x) Example
Tone 1 Tone 5 Tone 6 Tone 7 Tone 8
Monosyllabic word unbound to any word preceding it 44 33 44 22 儂好侬好 (6non+5hau)
炒魷魚炒鱿鱼 (5tshau+6yeu ng)
Monosyllabic word tightly bound to a monosyllabic word preceding it 硬碰硬 (6ngan+-phan+6ngan)
Multisyllabic word 33 33 嘸著嘸落呒着呒落 (6m zaq+6m loq)
Monosyllabic word tightly bound to a multisyllabic word preceding it 前世作孽 (6zhi sy+7tsoq+8gniq)

Conversion from MiniDict and Wugniu tone notation

  • (level), (rising), (departing), and (checked) should be used for reference, not the numbers.
MiniDict to Wugniu & Wiktionary tone conversion
MiniDict Wugniu Voicing of initial Wiktionary tone category
6 voiced 3
1 voiceless 1
6 voiced 3
5 voiceless 2
6 voiced 3
5 voiceless 2
8 voiced 5
7 voiceless 4



Tone sandhi in Suzhounese is usually analysed as a system in which every underlying tone contributes to the chain's contour. However, some generalizations can be made. On Wiktionary, the system as described in A Study on Suzhounese Phonetics (蘇州方言語音研究) is used.

Disclaimer: as Suzhounese has many irregular sandhi chains, and this system drastically simplifies sandhi, many words are irregular. Please transcribe realised tones using the sandhi chain with the closest pitch contour.

It is widely agreed upon that Suzhounese has seven tones.

Wugniu tone number Tone name
(tone category)
Voicing Tone value Example characters Ancestral MC tones
1 dark level
voiceless ˦ 44 dark level
2 light level
voiceless ˨˨˧ 223 light level
3 rising
voiceless ˥˩ 51 dark rising
5 dark departing
voiceless ˥˨˧ 523 𰽥 dark departing
6 light departing
voiced ˨˧˩ 231 light rising, light departing
7 dark checked
voiceless ˦˧ʔ 43 dark checked
8 light checked
voiced ˨˧ʔ 23 light checked

Left-prominent tone sandhi (word sandhi)


The left-prominent sandhi system used on Wiktionary works quite similarly to Shanghainese. For tones 1-6, only the first syllable is taken into account, whereas in tones 7 and 8, the first two syllables determine the chain. The 0's listed below are not displayed in the IPA as it is considered non-standard.

Left-prominent word tone sandhi patterns in unchecked syllables
Tone category Monosyllabics Disyllabics Trisyllabics Tetrasyllabics
Dark level (1) 44 44 0 44 44 0 44 44 44 0
Light level (2) 223 22 33 22 33 0 22 33 44 0
Rising (3) 51 55 11 55 11 0 55 11 11 0
Dark departing (5) 523 52 33 52 33 0 52 33 44 0
Light departing (6) 231 23 11 23 11 0 23 11 11 0
Left-prominent word tone sandhi patterns in checked syllables
Tone category Disyllabics Trisyllabics Tetrasyllabics
1st syl 2nd syl
Dark checked (7) Level (1, 2) 44 23 44 23 0 44 44 23 44 0
Rising (3) 55 51 55 51 0 55 51 11 0
Departing (5, 6) 55 523 55 52 33 55 52 22 33
Checked (7, 8) 44 44 44 44 0 44 44 44 22
Light checked (8) Level (1, 2) 22 33 22 33 0 22 33 44 0
Rising (3) 22 51 22 51 0 22 51 11 0
Departing (5, 6) 22 523 22 52 33 22 52 22 33
Checked (7, 8) 33 44 33 44 0 33 44 22 0

Right-prominent tone sandhi (phrase sandhi)


Suzhounese only has Shanghai-style right-prominent sandhi in monosyllabic dark departing terms. The dark departing syllabe mutates from 523 to 51: 別人 is pronounced as /siæ523>51 bəʔ22 ȵin33/ replace ȵ with n̠ʲ, invalid IPA characters (523>51<>22</>ȵ33).

Use in example sentences


In example sentences, all Northern Wu lects with Wugniu romanization are permitted. Other Wu lects are to be further investigated as to the potential for their inclusion. The Northern Wu localities with Wugniu notation are:

  • Shanghai
    • Urban Shanghai, Baoshan, Jiading, Putuo, Qingpu, Songjiang, Jinshan, Fengxian, Chuansha, Chongming
  • Jiangsu
    • Eastern Nantong (通東)
    • Urban Suzhou, Kunshan, Wujiang, Changshu
    • Urban Wuxi, Yixing
    • Urban Changzhou
    • Jingjiang (Old Coast 老岸話)
  • Zhejiang
    • Urban Jiaxing, Jiashan, Haiyan, Haining, Tongxiang
    • Urban Huzhou, Changxing, Anji, Deqing
    • Urban Hangzhou, Yuhang, Linping, Fuyang, Tonglu, Xiaoshan
    • Urban Shaoxing, Keqiao, Shangyu, Shengzhou, Xinchang
    • Urban Ningbo, Cixi, Yuyao, Zhenhai, Beilun, Yinzhou, Fenghua, Xiangshan
    • Urban Zhoushan, Daishan



  • 天才: zh-pron|w=sh:1thi ze;sz:1thie ze2

  • 火葬場火葬场: zh-pron|w=sh:5hu tsaon zan;sz:3hou tsaon5 zan2

  • 電視电视: zh-pron|w=sh:6di zy;sz:6die zyu6

  • 韓國韩国: zh-pron|w=sh:6ghoe koq;sz:2ghoe koq7

  • 法律: zh-pron|w=sh:7faq liq;sz:7faq liq8

  • 日本: zh-pron|w=sh:8zeq pen;sz:8zeq pen3

  • Resources

    • For checking the pronunciation of words, use The Comprehensive Dictionary of Shanghainese (《上海话大词典》), which uses IPA notations throughout the book. Wugniu also has a Shanghainese dictionary listed under 松江 Songjiang. However, note that Wugniu's dictionary spills into lect areas outside of Puxi
    • For checking the pronunciation of characters, use Wugniu or Wu Chinese MiniDict
      Note that MiniDict uses a different romanisation system than the one implemented here. Their romanisation scheme is as listed on their website

    See also