Peking Opera has a distinct pronunciation, that is at first similar to Mandarin, but to astute listeners, certain characters appear to have alternate or even non-Mandarin pronunciations.

Take certain passages in 三家店 for example (listen for yourself in this video):

将身儿来至在大口 (jiai)

尊一过往宾朋听从头 (shen, pong, tin)

一不是响马并贼寇 (bin, ze)

二不是歹人把偷 (chen)

杨林与我来斗 (zhen)

因此上发配到州 (den)

舍不得太爷的恩厚 (qin)

实难舍坊四邻与我的好友 (jiai, pong)


As you can see, the differences in pronunciation seem consistent, as if it is a formal part of Peking Opera instead of embellishments by the singers.

So is this true - there is a formal set of pronunciation rules for Peking Opera, analogous to a dialect? Where did this come from, was it based on one or many dialects, and if so which ones?


2 Answers 2


Beijing opera was not invented in the capital, but was largely imported from Anhui and other parts of the country, and then it evolved with further influences from other regions.

Certain pieces may therefore retain local accents, like Jiang-Huai (江淮官话) above, although the music itself makes it possible to just twist and distort the syllables.


This is because they want to make the sound a little bit louder, because in the past there is no electric amplifier.

In the example, the changes are (1) from "ng" to "n", so that the nasal coda is lighter. (2) push vowel from "e" to "a" "o" because the mouth opens wider.

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