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Wu phrasebook

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or "Shanghai dialect" or "Shanghainese" is the main local language for most of Zhejiang province, the municipality of Shanghai and southern Jiangsu province. There are also some speakers in other Chinese provinces. This is a populous region and the number of Wu native speakers is large; at 78 million it is rather more than French or Italian.

There are local variants of Wu; the standard is that of Suzhou (an older city, capital of the Kingdom of Wu centuries back, and home to many scholars), not that of Shanghai.

Few travellers are likely to need or want to learn Wu. Throughout China, Mandarin has been the only language of government and education, and the main language of media and entertainment, for over half a century. Nearly all Wu speakers speak at least some Mandarin as well, and younger to middle-aged ones are generally completely fluent. Also, the major cities where Wu is the main local language — Shanghai, Suzhou, Ningbo and Hangzhou — are all quite prosperous and full of immigrants or temporary migrant workers who come from areas where Wu is not spoken. As anywhere else in China, Mandarin is the lingua franca for communication between people from different areas.

That said, if you are spending a significant length of time in the region, then learning some Wu may be useful. It will allow you to join in conversations among the locals, and would almost certainly please and amuse them.

Pronunciation guide



Common diphthongs

Phrase list

Some phrases in this phrasebook still need to be translated. If you know anything about this language, you can help by plunging forward and translating a phrase.

List from Wikipedia

Translation IPA Chinese character
Shanghainese (people) (IPA: [zɑ̃.ˈhe.ɲɪɲ]) 上海人
I (IPA: [ŋu])
we or I (IPA: [ŋu.ɲi]) or (IPA: [ɐˑ.lɐʔ]) 我伲、阿拉(我拉)
he/she (IPA: [ɦi]) 渠(伊, 其)
they (IPA: [ɦ]) 渠拉(伊拉)
you (sing.) (IPA: [noŋ]) (儂)
you (plural) (IPA: [na])
hello (IPA: [noŋ hɔ]) 侬好(儂好)
good-bye (IPA: [ˈtse.ɦue]) 再会(再會)
thank you (IPA: [ʑ̻iaja noŋ]) or (IPA: [ʑ̻iaʑ̻ia noŋ]) 谢谢侬(謝謝儂)
sorry (IPA: [te.vəˑ.tɕʰi]) 对勿起(對勿起)
but, however (IPA: [dɛ.zɨ]), (IPA: [dɛ.zɨ.ni]) 但是, 但是呢
please (IPA: [tɕʰɪɲ]) (請)
that one (IPA: [ˈe.tsɐʔ]), (IPA: [i.tsɐʔ]) 哎只, 伊只
this one (IPA: [ɡəʔ.tsɐʔ]) 搿只
there (IPA: [ˈe.tɐʔ]), (IPA: [i.tɐʔ]) 哎垯, 伊垯
over there (IPA: [ˈe.mi.tɐʔ]), (IPA: [i.mi.tɐʔ]) 哎面垯, 伊面垯
here (IPA: [ɡəˑ.tɐʔ]) 搿垯(箇垯)
to have (IPA: [ɦiɤɯ.təʔ]) 有得
to exist, here, present (IPA: [lɐˑ.he]) 勒許
now, current (IPA: [ɦi.ze]) 现在(現在)
what time is it? (IPA: [ɦi.ze tɕi.ti tsoŋ]) 搿息几点钟?(搿息幾點鐘?)
where (IPA: [ɦa.ɺi.tɐʔ]), (IPA: [sa.di.fɑ̃]) 嚡里垯(嚡裏垯), 啥地方
what (IPA: [sa ɦəʔ]) 啥个, 做啥
who (IPA: [sa.ɲɪɲ]) or (IPA: [ɦa.ɺi.ɦue]) 啥人, 嚡里位
why (IPA: [ɦ]) 为啥(為啥)
when (IPA: [sa.zəɲ.kuɑ̃]) 啥辰光
how (IPA: [na.nəɲ, na.nəɲ.ka]) 哪恁, 哪恁介
how much? (IPA: [tɕi.di]) 几钿?几块洋钿?(幾鈿?幾塊銀頭?)
yes (IPA: [ˈe])
no (IPA: [m̩]), (IPA: [vəˑ.zɨ]), (IPA: [m̩məʔ]), (IPA: [viɔ]) 呒, 弗是, 呒没
telephone number (IPA: [di.ɦʊ ɦɔ.dɤɯ]) 电话号头(電話號頭)
home (IPA: [oˑ.ɺi.ɕiã]) 屋里向(屋裏向)
Come to our house and play. (IPA: [tɔ ɐˑ.lɐʔ oˑ.ɺi.ɕiɑ̃ le bəˑ.ɕiã]) 到阿拉屋里厢来孛相(白相)!(到阿拉屋裏厢來孛相!)
Where's the restroom? (IPA: [da.sɤɯ.kɛ ɺəˑ.ɺɐʔ ɦa.ɺi.tɐʔ]) 汏手间勒勒嚡里垯?(汏手間勒勒嚡裏垯?)
Have you eaten dinner? (IPA: [ɦia.vɛ tɕʰɪˑ.ku.ləʔ va]) 夜饭吃过了𠲎?(夜飯吃過了𠲎?)
I don't know (IPA: [ŋɯ; vəˑ.ɕiɔ.təʔ]) 我弗(勿)晓得.(我弗(勿)曉得.)
Do you speak English? (IPA: [noŋ ˈɪn.vəɲ kãtəʔle va]) 侬英文讲得来𠲎?
I love you (IPA: [ŋɯ; e noŋ]) 我爱侬!(我愛儂!)
I adore you (IPA: [ŋɯ; e.mɯ noŋ]) 我爱慕侬.(我愛慕儂!)
I like you a lot (IPA: [ŋɯ; ɺɔ ˈhuø.ɕi noŋ ɦəʔ]) 我老欢喜侬搿!(我老歡喜儂搿)
news (IPA: [ɕɪɲ.vəɲ]) 新闻(新聞)
dead (IPA: [ɕi.tʰəˑ.ləʔ]) 死脱了
alive (IPA: [ɦuəˑ.lɐˑ.he]) 活勒嗨(活着)
a lot (IPA: [ˈtɕiɔ.kue]) 交关(邪气)
inside, within (IPA: [ɺi.ɕiã]) 里向
outside (IPA: [ŋa.dɤɯ]) 外頭
How are you? (IPA: [noŋ hɔ va])? 侬好伐?(儂好伐?)


nong2 haw3 (侬好), similar to Mandarin 您好.
Hello. (informal
. ( )
How are you? 
 ? ( ?)
Fine, thank you. 
. ( )
What is your name? 
 ? ( ?)
My name is ______ . 
______ . ( _____ .)
Nice to meet you. 
. ( )
. ( )
Thank you. 
. ( )
You're welcome. 
. ( )
. ( )
. ( )
Excuse me. (getting attention
. ( )
Excuse me. (begging pardon
. ( )
I'm sorry. 
. ( )
. ( )
Goodbye (informal
. ( )
I can't speak name of language [well]. 
[ ]. ( [ ])
Do you speak English? 
 ? ( ?)
Is there someone here who speaks English? 
 ? ( ?)
 ! ( !)
Look out! 
 ! ( !)
Good morning. 
. ( )
Good evening. 
. ( )
Good night. 
. ( )
Good night (to sleep
. ( )
I don't understand. 
. ( )
Where is the toilet? 
 ? ( ?)




Clock time




Writing time and date



Bus and train










Learning more

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