Meixian Dialect
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Meixian Dialect
Native toSouthern China, Taiwan
Language codes

Meixian dialect (Chinese: ; Pha?k-fa-s?: Mòi-yan-fa; IPA: moi jan fa), also known as Moiyan dialect, as well as Meizhou dialect(), or Jiaying dialect, is the prestige dialect of Hakka Chinese and the basis for the Hakka dialects in Taiwan. It is named after Meixian District, Guangdong.



There are two series of stops and affricates in Hakka, both voiceless: tenuis /p t ts k/ and aspirated /p? t? ts? k?/.

Labial Dental Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal /m/ ⟨m⟩ /n/ ⟨n⟩ [?] ⟨ng(i)⟩* /?/ ⟨ng⟩
Plosive tenuis /p/ ⟨b⟩ /t/ ⟨d⟩ [c] ⟨g(i)⟩* /k/ ⟨g⟩ (?)
aspirated /p?/ ⟨p⟩ /t?/ ⟨t⟩ [c?] ⟨k(i)⟩* /k?/ ⟨k⟩
Affricate tenuis /ts/ ⟨z⟩
aspirated /ts?/ ⟨c⟩
Fricative /f/ ⟨f⟩ /s/ ⟨s⟩ [ç] ⟨h(i)⟩* /h/ ⟨h⟩
Approximant /?/ ⟨v⟩ /l/ ⟨l⟩ /j/ ⟨y⟩    

* When the initials /k/ ⟨g⟩, /k?/ ⟨k⟩, /h/ ⟨h⟩, and /?/ ⟨ng⟩ are followed by a palatal medial /j/ ⟨i⟩, they become [c] ⟨g(i)⟩, [c?] ⟨k(i)⟩, [ç] ⟨h(i)⟩, and [?] ⟨ng(i)⟩, respectively.[1]


Moiyan Hakka has 7 vowels, , i, e, a, ?, ? and u, that are romanised as ii, i, ê, a, e, o and u, respectively.

Out Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e? ?(?) ?
Open a


Moreover, Hakka finals exhibit the final consonants found in Middle Chinese, namely [m, n, ?, p, t, k] which are romanised as m, n, ng, b, d, and g respectively in the official Moiyan romanisation.

Finals of Meixian dialect[2]
nucleus medial coda
-? -i -u -m -n -? -p -t -k
-a- ?- a ai au am an a? ap at ak
j- ja jai jau jam jan ja? jap jat jak
w- wa wai     wan wa?   wat wak
-e- ?- e?   e?u e?m e?n   e?p e?t  
j- je?       je?n     je?t  
w-  we?       we?n     we?t  
-i- ?- i   iu im in   ip it  
-o- ?- o oi     on o?   ot ok
j- jo  joi     jon jo?     jok
w- wo       won wo?     wok
-u- ?- u ui     un u?   ut uk
j-   jui     jun ju?   jut juk
-?- ?-     ?m ?n   ?p ?t  
Syllabics m?  n?


Moiyan Hakka has 6 tones. The Middle Chinese fully voiced initial syllables became aspirated voiceless initial syllable in Hakka. Before that happened, the four Middle Chinese 'tones', ping, shang, qu, ru, underwent a voicing split in the case of ping and ru, giving the dialect six tones in traditional accounts.

Moiyan tones
Tone number Tone name Hanzi Tone letters number English
1 yin ping ? 44 high level
2 yang ping ? 11 low level
3 shang ? 31 low falling
4 qu ? 53 high falling
5 yin ru ? 2 low checked
6 yang ru ? 5 high checked

These so-called yin-yang tonal splittings developed mainly as a consequence of the type of initial a Chinese syllable had during the Middle Chinese stage in the development of Chinese, with voiceless initial syllables [p- t- k-] tending to become of the yin type, and the voiced initial syllables [b- d- ?-] developing into the yang type. In modern Moiyan Hakka however, part of the Yin Ping tone characters have sonorant initials [m n ? l] originally from the Middle Chinese Shang tone syllables and fully voiced Middle Chinese Qu tone characters, so the voiced/voiceless distinction should be taken only as a rule of thumb.

Hakka tone contours differs more as one moves away from Moiyen. For example, the Yin Ping contour is ? (33) in Changting () and (24) in Sixian (), Taiwan.

Entering tone

Hakka preserves all of the entering tones of Middle Chinese and it is split into two registers. Meixian has the following:

  • [ ? ] a low pitched checked tone
  • [ ? ] a high pitched checked tone

Middle Chinese entering tone syllables ending in [k] whose vowel clusters have become front high vowels like [i] and [e] shifts to syllables with [t] finals in modern Hakka[3] as seen in the following table.

Character Guangyun Fanqie Middle Chinese
Hakka Main meaning in English
? tk tsit? vocation, profession
? lk lit? strength, power
? d?k sit? eat, consume
? k set? colour, hue
? t?k tet? virtue
? kk k?et? carve, engrave, a moment
? p?k pet? north
? ku?k kuet? country, state

Tone sandhi

For Moiyan Hakka, the yin ping and qu tone characters exhibit sandhi when the following character has a lower pitch. The pitch of the yin ping tone changes from ? (44) to (35) when sandhi occurs. Similarly, the qu tone changes from (53) to ? (55) under sandhi. These are shown in red in the following table.

Moiyen tone sandhi
+ ? Yin Ping + ? Yang Ping + Shang + Qu + Yin Ru + YangRu + Neutral
? Yin Ping + ?.? .? . . . ?. .?
Qu + .? ?.? ?. ?. ?. . ?.?

The neutral tone occurs in some postfixes. It has a mid pitch.


  1. ^ Zee, Eric; Lee, Wai-Sum (2008). "The articulatory characteristics of the palatals, palatalized velars and velars in Hakka Chinese" (PDF). Proceedings of the 8th International Seminar on Speech Production (ISSP2008): 113-116. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-03-05.
  2. ^ Cheung, Yuk Man (2011). Vowels and tones in Mei Xian Hakka : an acoustic and perceptual study (Thesis). City University of Hong Kong.
  3. ^ "Numerals - SE Asian Readings of Characters". Archived from the original on 1 September 2017. Retrieved 2018.
  4. ^ "?". Archived from the original on 24 April 2018. Retrieved 2018.

Further reading

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