The 1986 edition of《四川方言词典》has the following entry:



Lo2 san1 ni1 da4 fu3——nao3 si2 ren2

乐山大佛距今已有一千多年历史, 所以是“老石人”。谐“老实人”。 ▷你以为他是~嗦? 他才阴倒不老实。

佛 is given the pronunciation of fu3

The 2014 edition of the same dictionary gives 佛 the pronunciation fu2

/note: this dictionary is riddled with errors(!)/

Logically I would have assumed the pinyin to have been written fo2 - which is pretty much how it is pronounced, as far as I can tell.

《四川方言词典》has fu3 and fu2

  • Are Either fu3 or fu2 correct pronunciations for 佛 in 四川话?
  • This might be interesting for you, but I think it's not spoken in "pure" SIchuanese: tudou.com/programs/view/w3EKGjEeZ3E It's quite long, I guess '佛' is mentioned a few times.
    – imrek
    Jul 3 '15 at 5:37

I tried the 漢語方言大辭典, and there are many places with the fu pronunciation in the southwest mandarin area, for example 佛豆 (= 蠶豆, fava bean) is pronounced fu tou in 畢節; 佛瓜 (瓠瓜 gourd) is pronounced fu gua in 自貢, etc. Not really surprising; 弗 is fu in Mandarin.

  • 1
    瓠瓜 in 自貢 generally called "硌兜(儿)", tender ones can be food and the old ones were used as a container in old days. fu gua may be 葫瓜(called 伏瓜).
    – chilau
    Jul 8 '15 at 8:48

I'm living in Zigong, Sichuan now.

There's no fixed pronunciation of many characters among Sichuan. When mentioned 佛山(A city in Guangdong), young people may say fo2, because Mandarin was spoken in more and more occasions. When referring to a local place, food, ancient things, people prefer to speak fu2 (佛教,大佛,牛佛烘肘).

In addition, experts thought Pinyin has many defects, such as

  • It's designed for Mandarin, zh ch sh and cacuminal actually only apply to Mandarin
  • It's designed to take place Chinese Characters in the special days(A 'great' people proposed that), but failed.
  • Some pronunciations are confusing, especially for foreigners.

So, it's not scientific to speak 四川话 in Pinyin. Maybe Wade–Giles system is a better choose.

In daily practice, 佛 is spoken as fo2.5.

四川话 cannot be simply expressed by Mandarin or a book, so it's normal for dictionary to be riddled with errors. In different context pronunciations differ.

  • Thanks! Very interesting to hear from the field. As a matter of vocabulary, 'cacuminal' is very rarely used nowadays, the word 'retroflex' is much more common. I'm still puzzled about the pronunciation of 佛. You say 'in daily practice' it is fo, but that for things like 佛教,大佛 etc. it is pronounced fu. What other daily uses does 佛 have besides talking about Buddhism, fava beans, and gourds?
    – wpt
    Jul 8 '15 at 17:13

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