Xinjiang 1

Listen to Xinjiang 1, a 19-year-old woman from Urumqi, Xinjiang Autonomous Region, 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): 18/06/1991

PLACE OF BIRTH: Urumqi, Xinjiang Autonomous Region

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.


The major influence is likely to have been her foreign teachers at school, who may be responsible for the pronounced North American twang. Until she came to university in Suzhou seven months ago, she had not been outside her native city for any appreciable time. She is an English major at university, and despite the aforementioned foreign teachers, she has had little general exposure to native English speakers.

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







Hello, everybody. I want to talk about my hometown. First, I’m from Urumqi, the capital of Autonomous Province. There are many non-natives in there. Many people in – many people in summer want to visit here. In summer there are many fruits, for example, (ahm) watermelons, strawberry and – and – and some native fruits. Urumqi is the biggest city in northwestern in China and it’s developing so fast, so more and more businessman to pay attention to he- … this city. Urumqi has many beautiful places to visit.







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 Urumqi dialect, a sub dialect of the Lan-Yin Mandarin group, which expanded into Xinjiang  from Gansuin recent decades (see the commentary below). A reading in Putonghua (Mandarin) can be heard on the Jiangsu 7 sample.

KEY: A = Mandarin (Simplified); B = Mandarin (Pingyin); C = Dialect (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.

C: 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.

C: 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.

C: 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.

C: 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.

C: : 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?

C: 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?


Xīnjiāng, the largest Chinese administrative division, is an autonomous region (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) that covers more than 1.6 million km and, with large oil reserves, is China’s largest natural gas-producing region. It shares borders with Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Xinjiang was previously known as Xiyu or Qurighar (Uyghur name), which simply means Western Region, under the Han Dynasty, which drove the Xiongnu Empire out of the region in 60 BCE in an effort to secure the profitable Silk Road. The name Xīnjiāng (New Territory) came into use during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).

With a documented history of at least 2,500 years, the region has been ruled by a succession of different peoples and empires, and, consequently, it has been known by many names. Its old English name is Chinese Turkestan. The region is sparsely populated. The east-west chain of the Tian Shan Mountains separates the dry steppe of Dzungaria in the north from the oases-surrounded desert of the Tarim Basin in the south. The eastern area is formed by the Turpan Depression, while in the west, the Tian Shan Range is split by the Ili River valley.

Various nomadic tribes, such as the Yuezhi were part of the large migration of Indo-European speaking peoples who were settled in eastern Central Asia (possibly as far as Gansu) as early as the 7th century BCE. They supplied jade to the Chinese, and here is a wealth of archaeological evidence for the supply of jade from the Tarim Basin from ancient times, particularly during the Shang Dynasty (1600–1046 BCE). Some of the early inhabitants are represented by the well-preserved Tarim mummies. These have been dated to the third century BCE and have Caucasoid features and red or blond hair.

The earliest Chinese occupation was during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE–CE 220), which established the Protectorate of the Western Regions in 60 CE. The area was known to the Greeks and the Romans as Seres, who considered the people “civilized men, of mild, just, and frugal temper, eschewing collisions with their neighbors, and even shy of close intercourse, but not averse to dispose of their own products, of which raw silk is the staple, but which include also silk stuffs, furs, and iron of remarkable quality.”

The Tang Dynasty (618-907) was one of the most expansionist in China’s history and ruled the region through the Anxi Protectorate. This came to an end in 763 when Tibet invadedChinaand took control of southern Xīnjiāng. It was not until 1755 in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) that the region returned to Chinese control.

The dialect spoken in Xīnjiāng is Lan-Yin, one of the eight dialects of Mandarin. (The modern standardized Putonghua is based on Beijing Mandarin.) The dialect is also spoken in Gansu, and the name is a compound of the capitals of the two provinces,Yinchuan and Lanzhou, which are also two of its principal sub-dialects.

In general, no two Mandarin-speaking areas have the exact same set of tone values. On the other hand, most Mandarin-speaking areas have very similar tone distribution, and many have four tones that correspond quite well to the Beijing tones.

Although Ürümqi is situated near the northern route of the Silk Road, it is a relatively young city dating only to the 22nd year of Emperor Taizong’s reign in the Tang Dynasty, AD 648. Then known as Luntai, the town was a seat of local government and collected taxes from the caravans along the northern route of the Silk Road.

Noticeable characteristics, which can be heard on the recordings, include some examples of the /θ/- /s/ and /ʒ/- /s/ and the /v/ and /w/ minimal-pair transpositions, the latter quite pronounced. The problem with sounding the second s-like sound in words like “goose’s” and “places” is also quite pronounced.



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