Introduction to Wu Chinese (吴语)

+ Spoken primarily in Zhejiang province and southern Jiangsu province +Approximately 80 million native speakers + Major Wu dialects include; Shanghai, Suzhou, Ningbo, Wenzhou, Hangzhou, Shaoxing, Jinhua, and Yongkang Suzhou Wu Chinese is considered to be the most representative of the major dialects. It was the basis of the Wu lingua franca which eventually led to the formation of modern Shanghainese. Due to the influence and important of modern Shanghainese, the Wu dialects are as a whole frequently incorrectly labelled as Shanghainese by English speakers. Wu is in fact the name for the group of dialects that Shanghainese is part of. The dialects of Wu Chinese are incredibly diverse with very little mutual intelligibility among dialects within the family. As a result, some Wu varieties like Wenzhounese have gained notoriety for their incomprehensibility to both Wu and non-Wu speakers alike, so much so that Wenzhounese was used during the Second World War to avoid Japanese interception. Fascinating!

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