Hubei 2

Listen to Hubei 2, an 18-year-old woman from Xiangfan, Hubei Province, China. Click or tap the triangle-shaped play button to hear the subject.

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AGE: 18

DATE OF BIRTH (DD/MM/YYYY): 18/07/1992

PLACE OF BIRTH: Xiangfan, Hubei Province

GENDER: female

ETHNICITY: Han Chinese


EDUCATION: At the time of the recording, the subject was in her first year at university.


Subject came to live in Suzhou, Jiangsu, seven months before the date of the recording.


There have been a number of influences. She began to learn English at the age of 10 and did have a native English-speaking teacher in high school. She also seeks to improve her English in self-study using the Voice of America and BBC broadcasts, in addition to watching foreign films and listening to Western popular music. She has been at university in Suzhou for less than a year with limited exposure to the native English-speaking teachers here. The results of these influences can be heard on the recording where the recognizably Chinese accent and syntax is dotted with faint echoes of both American and RP.

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







Now I would like me to introduce my hometown, Xiangfan, to you. My hometown is located in Central China, in the northwest of Hubei Province. Xiangfan now changed its name to Xiangyang. (Um) My hometown has a long history; I love this historical city very much. Xiangyang is one of the beautiful cities in China – welcome to my hometown. Well, I first began to learn English at the age of 10. I have learned English for such a long time, but I still have some problem in grammar learning. I hope I will improve my English someday, and I will spare no efforts to learn English.







Short readings from the analects of Confucius

The subject now goes on to read the following abstracts from the Analects of Confucius in her own Guan-Chi / E-Bei Mandarin dialect. The pinyin version is the same as the standard one given here; the differences lie in the tone structure and stress patterns. For comparison, a reading in Standard Putonghua (Mandarin) can be heard on the Hebei 1 sample. Both of these should also be compared to the reading in Sichuan 2 in order to get some flavor of the large dialectical differences with the Mandarin groups as a whole.

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?


Hubei is a province in Central China whose name means “north of the lake,” referring to its location to the north of Dongting Lake. Compare this with Hunan, which means south of the same lake. It borders Henan to the north, Anhui to the east, Jiangxi to the southeast, Hunan to the south, Chongqing to the west, and Shaanxi to the northwest. The high-profile Three Gorges Dam is located at Yichang, in the west of the province.

The official abbreviation for Hubei is “鄂” (È), an ancient name associated with the eastern part of the province since the Qin dynasty (221 – 206 BCE). It is also popularly known as Chǔ, after the powerful State of Chu that was centered here during the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC – 476 BCE). This was an extension of the Chinese civilization that had emerged some centuries before in the north and was nominally a tributary state of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770 – 256 BCE). However, it was also culturally unique, and was a powerful state that held onto much of the middle and lower Yangtze River, with its power extending northwards into the North China Plain.

During the Warring States Period (475 BC – 221 BC), Chu became the major adversary of the new state of Qin to the northwest, which was beginning to expand its borders. Between 278 and 223 BCE, there were almost constant wars between the Qin and the Chu, which finally ended in the defeat of Chu and the rise of the Qin Dynasty (221 – 206 BCE), which unified China for the first time.

During the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 09 CE), Hubei and Hunan formed a single province, Jingzhou (golden province). During the Three Kingdoms Period (220 – 265), Jingxhou was controlled by the Wu Kingdom, based in what is now Anhui. During the upheavals brought about by the 4th century invasion by the nomadic tribes from Central Asia into North China, Jingzhou remained under southern control until 589 and the reunification of China by the Sui Dynasty (581 – 618). During the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), the area was divided into several “circuits.” More confusion and changes of hands arrived with the Five Dynasties and Three Kingdoms Period (907 – 960) until peace was restored by the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279).

The Yuan (Mongol) Dynasty (1271 – 1368) saw further administrative divisions and, in 1334, the first world’s first recorded outbreak of the Black Death, which spread westward during the following three centuries, decimating populations from Asia to Europe. The succeeding Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) kept Hubei and Hunan as a single province, Huguang, and it was not until the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911) that the two modern provinces were established as separate entities.

People in Hubei speak Mandarin dialects; most of these dialects are classified as southwestern Mandarin dialects Xīnán Guānhuà. This group covers a large geographical area, including the Han Chinese area in Sichuan, Yunnan, Chongqing, Guizhou, and most parts of Hubei, the southwestern part of Hunan, the northern part of Guangxi, and the southern part of Shaanxi and Gansu. A major study has shown that Hubei dialects have a strong influence on how students pronounce English, and the study recommends that “Students’ erroneous pronunciation in English learning should be corrected by their teachers during the teaching process so that negative influences produced by Hubei dialects will be removed.” As a result, it was claimed that “fluent and sweet English is spoken by Hubei students.”

The sample’s hometown, Xiangyang (Xiang fan before December 2, 2010) is in the north of the province and straddles the river Han. That part to the north of the Han was the ancient city of Fancheng; to the south was the ancient city of Xiangzhou. In north Hubei, there are two sub-dialects, Guan-Chi and E Bei. Hubei dialects are generally much closer to “standard” Putonghua than, say, the Sichuan dialects, although tonal differences can be heard in some speakers who omit the retroflex sounds altogether. The third tone can also be lost or ignored, and there is sometimes confusion between /l/ and /n/;  for example, “nan” can often sound like “lan.”



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