I hear Mr. Xi Jinping in his address to villagers spoke 老少边穷地区 in the fourth tone (i.e., 少 as 绍), but I think he might have made a mistake here, out of instincts, without any real understanding.

  • Not a mistake, No one say 老少(shao3)边穷, since 少 is preceded by a third tone, it is easy to say shao4
    – sfy
    Oct 7, 2017 at 13:19
  • It is definitely a mistake if pronounced as shao4.
    – fefe
    Oct 8, 2017 at 1:20

2 Answers 2


Here’s 现代汉语规范词典’s entry:


PY lǎo-shǎo-biān-qióng


注意 “少”这里不读shào, 不当“年少”讲。


It should be pronounced as the 3rd tone, i.e. shǎo. Because in 老少边穷地区 refers to 少数民族自治地区.


BTW: 老少 (pronounced as lǎo shào) is another word which means the old and the young. So pronouncing 老少边穷 as lǎo shào biān qióng would be quite confusing.

Reference: “老少边穷”的“少”怎么读?

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