Taihu Wu

Taihu Wu
Native to People's Republic of China
Region South Jiangsu province, North Zhejiang province, southeastern Anhui, and Shanghai. Linguistic exclave in Cangnan county in southern Zhejiang province.
Native speakers
(47 million
85 million cited 1987
Language codes
ISO 639-3
ISO 639-6 taiu
Glottolog taih1244[3]

Taihu Wu (吳語太湖片) or Northern Wu dialects (北部吳語) are a group of Wu dialects spoken over much of southern part of Jiangsu province, including Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou, the southern part of Nantong, Jingjiang and Danyang; the municipality of Shanghai; and the northern part of Zhejiang province, including Hangzhou, Shaoxing, Ningbo, Huzhou, and Jiaxing. A notable exception is the dialect of the town of Jinxiang, which is a linguistic exclave of Taihu Wu in Zhenan Min-speaking Cangnan county of Wenzhou prefecture in Zhejiang province. This group makes up the largest population among all Wu speakers. The subdialects of this region are mutually intelligible with each other.


Linguistic affinity has also been used as a tool for regional identity and politics in the Jiangbei and Jiangnan regions. While the city of Yangzhou was the center of trade, flourishing and prosperous, it was considered part of Jiangnan, which was known to be wealthy, even though Yangzhou was north of the Yangzi river. Once Yangzhou's wealth and prosperity were gone, it was then considered to be part of Jiangbei, the "backwater". After Yangzhou was removed from Jiangnan, its residents decided to no longer speak Jianghuai Mandarin, which was the dialect of Yangzhou. They instead replaced Mandarin with Wu and spoke Taihu Wu dialects. In Jiangnan itself, multiple subdialects of Wu competed for the position of prestige dialect.[4]

In 1984, around 85 million speakers are mutually intellegible with Shanghainese.[2]

List of Taihu Wu dialect subgroups

SuJiaHu (SuzhouJiaxingHuzhou) 蘇嘉湖小片

Northwestern Wu

Northern Zhejiang

List of Taihu Wu dialects


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Sinolect.org
  2. 1 2 DeFrancis, John (1984), The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy
  3. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Taihu". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. Dorothy Ko (1994). Teachers of the inner chambers: women and culture in seventeenth-century China (illustrated, annotated ed.). Stanford University Press. p. 21. ISBN 0-8047-2359-1. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
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