Hebei 2

Listen to Hebei 2, a 21-year-old man from Shijia Zhuang, Zanhuangxian, Hebei Province, China. Click or tap the triangle-shaped play button to hear the subject.

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AGE: 21

DATE OF BIRTH (DD/MM/YYYY): 16/11/1989

PLACE OF BIRTH: Shijia Zhuang, Zanhuangxian, Hebei Province

GENDER: male

ETHNICITY: Han Chinese


EDUCATION: At the time of the recording, subject was in his second year at university.


Subject had been living in Suzhou, Jiangsu, for the 18 months prior to the recording.


There have been very few direct influences; he lived at home until coming to university in Suzhou eighteen months ago. He began to learn English at the age of 14 but did not have any native English-speaking teachers at school. His major at university is science, and he is learning English as a necessary skill. His accent, therefore, remains very strong.

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







I come from Hebei Province whose capital is Shijia Zhuang. In the past, my hometown was not big. People lived a poor life. The traffic was not convenient, and the houses were old and small. But now everything has changed; the environment has become very beautiful. It’s very easy to go shopping. You can see green trees and nice flowers here and there. People live a happy life. I want to say that my childhood is very beautiful. I come from a remote countryside, so I often did much farming work. Though, there is much work I should do, I think it is meaningful. I began to study English several years ago. I know that many people are aware of the importance of learning Engli- English. For one thing, English is a working skill; for another, I can have many friends by study English.







Short readings from the analects of Confucius

The subject now goes on to read the following abstracts from the Analects of Confucius in the standard Mandarin dialect spoken in his hometown. (See commentary below.) This can usefully be compared to theHebei1 sample to get a good idea of the kind of differences to be heard in even the dialects of Standard Putonghua.

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 summarized 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?


Héběi is the province in north China that surrounds the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin. The name means “North of the Yellow (river).” Its alternative name in Yānzhào, derived from the states of Yan and Zhao that comprised this territory during the Warring States Period of early Chinese history. It was in the plains of Héběi that Peking Man (a Homo erectus group) flourished around 200,000 to 700,000 years ago. Chinese Neolithic findings at the prehistoric Beifudi site date back to 7000 and 8000 BCE.

After the Warring States Period, China was unified by the Qin Dynasty in 221 BCE and under the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) Héběi consisted of two provinces, Youzhou and Jizhou. Following the end of the Han Dynasty and the period of the Three Kingdoms, Héběi came under the rule of the Kingdom of Wei. Being strategically placed at the northern frontier of China, Héběi changed hands many times during the long period of upheavals during the 5th and 6th centuries.

Stability came with the Tang Dynasty (618-907) when the province was first designated as Héběi. During the Song Dynasty (960-1127), it again changed hands many times and was ceded to the Jurchen Jin Dynasty when the Southern Song abandoned north China in 1127. Although the Mongol Yuan Dynasty (1271- 1368) established by Kublai Khan divided China into provinces, Héběi was not designated as a province. The succeeding Ming Dynasty ruled it directly from the imperial capital,Beijing. This arrangement was not ended until 1928.

The sample’s hometown is in Zan Huang County, within the Administrative area of Hebei’s capital city, Shi Jia Huang. Lying in the southwest of the province, Shi Jia Huang is a newly industrialized city. It experienced dramatic growth after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. The population of the metropolitan area has more than quadrupled in only 30 years. It is a central hub of transportation routes. The city is home to large garrison of military troops in case of need to protect Beijing. It has a number of PLA colleges and universities.

In pre-Han times (i.e., before 206 BC), it was the site of the city of Shiyi in the state of Zhao, and, from the Han (206 BC–AD 220) to the Sui (581–618) dynasties, it was the site of a county town with the same name. With the reorganization of local government in the early period of the Tang dynasty (618–907), the county was abolished. Shijiazhuang then became little more than a local market town, subordinate to the flourishing city of  Zhengding (modern Zhengding), a few miles to the north.

The growth of Shijiazhuang into one of China’s major cities began in 1905, when the Beijing-Wuhan (Hankou) railway reached the area, stimulating much new trade and encouraging local farmers to grow cash crops. Two years later the town became the junction for the new Shitai line, running from Shijiazhuang to Taiyuanin central Shanxi province. This connection immediately transformed the town from a local collecting center and market into a communications center of national importance on the main route from Beijing and Tianjin to Shanxi and — later, when the railway from Taiyuan was extended to the southwest — to Shaanxi province as well. The city also became the center of an extensive road network.

Shijiazhuang is also famous for its rock cultures. Several underground rock bands are active in this city, mostly performing in pubs. Two nationwide rock magazines, SoRock (我爱摇滚乐) and XMusic (通俗歌曲) are based in Shijiazhuang and act as major platforms promoting rock music in China.

More than 90 percent of the population in Shi Jia Zhuang speaks standard Putonghua. Unlike most other modern Chinese cities, Shijiazhuang is absolutely not an international city. It boasts very little Western architecture, very few Western chain stores, and very few foreigners. This lack of foreign influence has maintained the uniquely Chinese nature of the city and its undiluted cultural and language environment.

On this recording, we can hear most of the usual Chinese problems with English: [s] and [sh], [z] and [zh] pairs, the /θ/- /s/ and /ʒ/- /s/ and the /v/ and /w/ minimal pair transpositions. An interesting feature is the pronunciation of the final “e” in “rare.” This has not been heard in the speakers of the Wu dialects, but is beginning to crop up in these northern dialect regions. Also, this is the best sample so far for the common Chinese habit of adding an additional syllabic “ah” at the end of stressed words, especially those that end with a /t/ or a /d/. In this recording, it crops up in most sentences and includes words such as “life-ah.”



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