Min (闽语 [閩語])

Min varieties of Chinese are spoken by some 75 million people mainly in Fujian province (福建省) in China, and also in parts of Jiangsu (江苏), Zhejiang (浙江), Jiangxi (江西), Guangdong (广东), Hainan (海南) and Guangxi (广西), as well as in Taiwan (臺灣) and Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Burma and other parts of Southeast Asia, and in the USA, especially in New York City.

The Classical Chinese name for Fujian, (闽 [閩] mǐn) comes from the Kingdom of Minyue (闽越 [閩越] mǐnyuè) was located in what is now Fujian province between about 334-110 BC. The name Min was possibly an ethnic name and associated with the Chinese word for barbarians (蛮 [蠻] mán), and Yue comes from the State of Yue, a kingdom in Zhejiang Province during the Spring and Autumn Period (771 - 476 BC).

Varieties of Min are divided according to mutual intelligibility into five to nine separate groups. A distinction is also made between Inland Min varieties and Coastal Min varieties.

Inland varieties of Min

Northern Min (闽北话 [閩北話] / mínběihuà)

Northern Min or Min Bei has about 11 million speakers in northern parts of Fujian Province, particulary around Nanping (南平) and Xiaxian city (辖县市). There are also speakers in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and other parts of South East Asia.

Varieties of Northern Min include:

Shaojiang Min (邵将 [邵將] shàojiāng)

Shaojiang Min or Shao-Jiang is a group of Min subvarieties spoken around Nanping (南平) in the northeast of Fujian province. They are often classified as dialects of Northern Min, but are not mutually intelligible with it.

Central Min (闽中话 [閩中話] mǐnzhōnghuà)

Central Min or Min Zhong is spoken by about 3.1 million people in central Fujian Province, particularly around Yong'an city (永安), Sanming city (三明) and Sha County (沙县).

Coastal varieties of Min

Southern Min (闽南语 [閩南語] bân-lâm-gí / mǐnnányǔ)

Southern Min or Min Nan varieties are spoken by about 49 million people in the south of Fujian province, in Guangdong, Hainan, Zhejiang and Jiangxi provinces, and also in Taiwan, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia. Mǐn is another name for Fujian province and Nán means 'south' or 'southern'.

Major varieties of Southern Min include:

Quanzhou, Xiamen and Zhangzhou varieties of Southern Min are more or less mutually intelligible with each other, but not with Chaozhou varieties.

Tower of Babel in Amoy

Eastern Min (闽东话 [閩東語] - mìng-dě̤ng-ngṳ̄ / mǐndōngyǔ)

Eastern Min or Min Dong is spoken by about 9.1 million people mainly in east central Fujian province, particularly in and around Fuzhou (福州) and Ningde (宁德), and also in Brunei, Indonesia (Java and Bali), Malaysia (Peninsular) Singapore, Thailand.

Information about:

Tower of Babel in Eastern Min

Puxian (溫州話 / Pô-sing-uā)

Puxian or Puxian Min is spoken by about 2.6 million people mainly in Putian City (莆田市) and Xianyou County (仙游县) in Fujian province.

More details of Puxian

Qiong-Lei (琼雷)

The Qiong-Lei variety of Min has two main subvarieties: Leizhou (雷州话 [雷州話] léizhōu huà), which is spoken by about 4 million people in Leizhou city and neighbouring areas in western Guangdong province; and Hainanese (海南​话 [海南話] hái-nâm-oe / hǎinánhuà), which is spoken mainly in Hainan by about 1.1 million people. The subvarieties are not mutually intelligible with other varieties of Min.

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Information about:

Min Chinese

Shaojiang Min

Northern Min (Min Bei)

Eastern Min (Min Dong)

Central Min (Min Zhong)

Southern Min (Min Nan)


Lei Zhou Min


Xiamen Missionary Romanisation System for certain Southern Min dialects

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