Guangdong 3

Listen to Guangdong 3, a 19-year-old woman from Zhangjiang, Guangdong Province, China. Click or tap the triangle-shaped play button to hear the subject.

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AGE: 19

DATE OF BIRTH (DD/MM/YYYY): 13/01/1992

PLACE OF BIRTH: Zhangjiang, Guangdong Province

GENDER: female

ETHNICITY: Han Chinese


EDUCATION: university


She left her hometown less than a year before the recording to come to university in Suzhou.


There have been few foreign influences on her speech apart from some movies.

The text used in our recordings of scripted speech can be found by clicking here.







Ah, hello. I’m from Guandong Province, ah, Zhangjiang. Ah, I think Zhangjiang is a very beautiful city; it is beside the sea. Ahm, there are three member – s in my family: my parents and I. Ahm, when I’m in the kindergarten, ahm, I first began to learn English.

[The subject now goes on to read abstracts from the Analects of Confucius in her own Yue dialect. (See the detailed commentary below). She did not provide a pinyin transliteration.]








The Chinese dialects are spoken languages only; Putonghua is used for writing. A comparison with any of the other samples in this archive will demonstrate the vast differences in sound between the Mandarin (Hebei 1, for example), Wu (any of the Jiangsu samples) and Yue dialects.

KEY: A = Mandarin (Simplified); B = Mandarin (Pingyin); D = English.


孔子: 论语 – Kǒng zǐ : lún yǔ – Kon zi:leng yu – Confucius: Lun Yu

學而第一 – xué ér dì yī – Xué ér dì yī – Chapter One

A: 1-1:-       子曰: 學而時習之、不亦說乎。

B: yī-yī :-    zǐ yuē: xué ér shí xí zhī, bù yì yuè hū.

D: 1-1:-       The Master said: Is it not pleasure to learn, and practice what is learned time and again?

A: 1-2:-       有朋自遠方來、不亦樂乎。

B: yī-èr:-     yǒu péng zì yuǎn fāng lái, bù yì lè hū.

D: 1-2:-       Is it not happiness to have friends coming from distant places?

A: 1-3:-       人不知而不慍、不亦君子乎。

B: yī-sān:    rén bù zhī ér bù yùn, bù yì jūn zi hū.

D: 1-3:-       Is it not virtue for a man to feel no discomposure when others take no note of him?

為政第二 wéi zhèng dì èr – wéi zhèng dì ér – Chapter two

A: 2-2:-       子曰:「詩三百,一言以蔽之,曰:『思無邪』。

B: èr-èr:-     zǐ yuē: shī sān bǎi, yī yán yǐ bì zhī , yuē: sī wú xié.

D: 2-2:-       The Master said: In the Book of Odes there are three hundred poems, but they may be summarised in a single sentence: Think no evil.

A: 2-7:-       子游問孝。子曰:今之孝者,是謂能養。至於犬馬,皆能有養;不敬,  何 以別乎。

B: èr-qī:-     zǐ yóu wèn xiào. zǐ yuē: jīn zhī xiào zhě, shì wèi néng yǎng. zhì wū quǎn mǎ, jiē néng yǒu yǎng; bù jìng, hé yǐ bié hū.

D: 2-7:-       Zi You asked what filial piety was. The Master said: Nowadays, providing support for one’s parents is considered filial piety. But dogs and horses can also do this. If there is no respect, what is the difference?

A: 2-10:-     子曰:「視其所以,觀其所由,察其所安。人焉叟哉?人焉叟哉?

B: èr-shí :- zǐ yuē: shì qí suǒ yǐ , guān qí suǒ yóu, chá qí suǒ ān. rén yān sǒu zāi? rén yān sǒu zāi?

D: 2-10:-     The Master said: Watch what a man does. Find out his motives. See how he takes his ease. How then can the man hide his true self? How can the man hide his true self?


Situated on the South China Sea coast, Guangdong is China’s richest province, followed by Jiangsu and Shandong in second and third place, respectively. “Guang” means “expanse” or “vast,” and has been associated with the region since the creation of Guang Prefecture in 226 CE during the Three Kingdoms Period. “Guangdong” and neighbouring Guangxi literally mean “expanse east” and “expanse west.”

The modern abbreviation 粤 (Yue) is a shortened form of Baiyue, a collective name for various peoples that lived in Guangdong and other areas in ancient times. For our purposes, the historical development of the Province is best followed by the looking at the development of the Chinese language spoken in Guangdong – Yue.

This is commonly known in the West as Cantonese, and is a primary branch of Chinese spoken in southern China. Spoken Cantonese is mutually unintelligible with other varieties of Chinese, though intelligible to a certain degree in its written form. Apart from Guangdong, the areas of China with the highest concentration of speakers are eastern)Guangxi and the regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

In English, the term “Cantonese” originally referred to the Guangzhou (Canton) dialect of Yue,but it is now commonly used for Yue as a whole. In order to avoid confusion, it is better to call the primary branch of Chinese Yue and either restrict “Cantonese” to its common usage as the dialect of Guangzhou, or avoid the term “Cantonese” altogether and distinguish Yue from Guangzhou (Canton) dialect. This is the usage followed here.

A notable feature of Yue is that, in some respects, it is closer to classical Chinese in its pronunciation and some grammatical aspects than Mandarin. For example, the pronunciation of all modern varieties of Chinese are different from Old Chinese or Middle Chinese, characters that once rhymed in poetry may no longer do so today, however many poems that no longer rhyme in Mandarin still do so in Yue. For this reason, Yue retains a flavour of archaic and ancient Chinese, that can be used to study ancient Chinese culture where the Mandarin dialects let us down.

Guangdong, well removed from the centre of the developing ancient Chinese civilization in the north China plain, was populated by peoples collectively known as the Baiyue. What we would recognise as Chinese administration in the region began with the Qin Dynasty (221 -206 BCE) which unified China for the first time. In this period, many Han people began settling in what was then called the Lingnan area. This migration introduced the Chinese language to this area. The mixing of the Han and Yue peoples continued during the Sui (581 – 618), Tang (618 – 907) and Song (960 – 1279) Dynasties, which dramatically increased the population of the south. The language that the refugee Han Chinese brought to the south was the ancient language pre-dating the influence of the Mongolian and Manchu invasions.

After establishing the first unified Chinese empire, the Qin expanded southwards and set up Nanhai Commandery at Panyu, near what is now part of Guangzhou. This enjoyed a short period of independence as Nanyue after the fall of the Qin but was re-integrated by the Han who administered Guangdong, Guangxi, and northern Vietnam as Jiaozhi Province. Under the Wu Kingdom of the Three Kingdoms Period (220 – 265), what is now Guangdong was established as Guang Province, in 226.

Today, we find that Yue pronunciation and vocabulary bear many similarities to the official language of the Tang dynasty. It is believed that the remoteness of the area, in terms of greater China, and inefficient transport to Guangdong created an environment in which this language remained largely intact after it arrived. The differences between central Chinese and Yue became more significant, and the languages became more independent of one another, during the succeeding Song, Yuan (1271 – 1368) and Ming (1368 – 1644) Dynasties.

In the late Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911). Guanzhou (Canton) was one of only a few cities allowed to conduct foreign trade, with the result that some foreigners learned Yue and some Imperial government officials spoke the Yue dialect. It was, of course, the language of Portuguese Macau and British Hong Kong through which it was transmitted to other parts of Asia and Cantonese settlements in the West.

The Yue language includes several dialects, of which The Guangzhou (Canton) dialect of Yuehai is the prestige dialect and social standard of Yue. In some respects, Yue is a more conservative language than Mandarin. For example, Yue has retained ancestral consonant endings that have been lost in Mandarin – Putonghua has 23 syllable rhymes, while Yue has 59, leading Putonghua to rely heavily on compounding and context for meaning. On the other hand, Yue has lost distinctions in the initial and medial consonants which Mandarin has retained, and Wu Chinese has preserved the three series of stop consonant initials from Middle Chinese that both Mandarin and Yue have reduced to two.

Yue sounds quite different from Mandarin, mainly because it has a different set of syllables. The rules for syllable formation are different; for example, there are syllables ending in non-nasal consonants (e.g. “lak”). It also has different tones and more of them than Mandarin, 6, 7 or 8 depending on whether a traditional distinction between a high-level and a high-falling tone is observed.

However, there are also clear sound correspondences in the tones. For example, a fourth-tone (low falling tone) word in Yue is usually second tone (rising tone) in Mandarin. This can be partly explained by their common descent from Middle Chinese (spoken), still with its different dialects. One way of counting tones gives Yue nine tones, Mandarin four, and Late Middle Chinese eight. Within this system, Mandarin merged the so-called “yin” and “yang” tones except for the Ping (平, flat) category, while Yue not only preserved these, but split one of them into two over time. Also, within this system, Yue and Wu are the only Chinese languages known to have split a tone, rather than merge two or more of them, since the time of Late Middle Chinese.

Until we have more samples from the Yue region, it is unwise to draw too many conclusions, however there are some significant differences between this sample’s English and that of the English spoken by the native Putonghua speakers. In particular there is no trace at all of the aspirated /h/ which is so common in all of our other samples. This speaker also seems not to have any difficulty with the /θ/ – /s/ and /ʒ/ – /s/ minimal pairs. One curious problem seems to be with /s/ as a plural, this is consistently missing from “teachers,” for example.

The subject’s hometown, Zhanjiang, is located on the eastern coast of the Leizhou Peninsula southwest of Guangzhou (Canton) on an inlet of the South China Sea. It lies directly North of Hainan Island’s capital of Haikou, and is the southernmost port in China. The dialect in downtown districts is Cantonese, while the people in most counties speak Hai’nan dialect (or Leizhou dialect as referred locally). The dialect in Lianjiang County is Hakka.

During the Qin Dynasty (221BC–206BC), the Leizhou was part of Xiang Shire. The succeeding Han Dynasty (206BC–220AD) placed the entire Leizhou Peninsular under th administration of Xuwen Count. The port was one of the earliest departure points on the Marine Silk Road. The population reached its maximum during the Tang (618–907) and Song (960–1279) dynasties.

The region, still a small fishing port was occupied by the French in 1898 and, in the following year, the French forced the Chinese to lease a small enclave of Zhanjiang to them for 99 years as the territory of Kwang-Chou-Wan. The French planned to develop the port (which they called Fort-Bayard) in order to serve those parts of southern China in which they had exclusive rights to railway and mineral development. However, because of the poverty of the surrounding land, they were only partly successful in this. Having lost control of the area to the Japanese in 1943, France regained possession at the end of World War II and formally handed it back to China in 1946.

Following the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949, Zhanjiang grew in importance and is now a major modern port serving southern China. In 1984, it was designated one of the “open” cities of China, where the central government invited foreign investment, and this spurred the city’s further industrial development. Until the introduction of Pinyin spelling, it was often known in the west as “Tsamkong” due to the Cantonese pronunciation of the name. Until the introduction of Pinyin spelling, it was often known in the west as “Tsamkong” due to the Cantonese pronunciation of the name.



The archive provides:

  • Recordings of accent/dialect speakers from the region you select.
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