I've been wanting to learn more about beijinghua and it's been more challenging than I expected.

I've heard that sh, ch, and zh, all turn to r in beijinghua. However, I've also heard some examples when it becomes h (非常 Fēicháng > Fēihang) or when it still remains as a voiceless sh (历史 Lìshǐ > Lìshh ) .

I've tried coming up with and summarising what I have found/heard below. Corrections would be greatly appreciated


1 or 2 becomes h: 花生豆 Huāshēng dòu > Huā heng dòu, 非常 Fēicháng > Fēihang

3 or 4 becomes r: 多少 Duōshǎo > Duōr, 出示 Chūshì, Chūr


1 becomes h or r?: 图书馆 Túshūguǎn > Túrguǎn or Túhuguǎn ?

What happens after 2 and 3?

4 becomes r: 还是 Háishì > Háir


1 and 2 remain or change?: 小车 Xiǎochē > Xiǎoch, BUT 老师 Lǎoshī > Lǎor?

3 and 4 become r: 把手 Bǎshǒu > Bǎr, 手指头 > Shǒuzhǐ tou, 把式 Bǎ shi > Bǎr


1 becomes sh: 钥匙 Yàochí > Yàoshh, 蜡烛 Làzhú > Làshh, BUT 为什么 Wèireme ?

2 becomes r: 派出所 Pàichūsuǒ > Pàirsuǒ, 不知道 Bù zhīdào > Bùrdào

3 and 4 does it become sh or r?: 历史 Lìshǐ > Lìshh BUT 报纸 Bàozhǐ > Bàor?, 算数 Suànshù > Suànshh BUT 但是 Dànshì > Dànr?

Thank you

2 Answers 2


I've heard that sh, ch, and zh, all turn to r in beijinghua

This is just an effect of speaking fast.

The groups zh, ch and sh in Beijing dialect, which Mandarin is based upon, are retroflex consonants.

The English r instead is a postalveolar consonant, and it's an approximant (meaning that your tongue doesn't hinder the air flow from your lungs).

If we look at the points of articulation of these sounds, we can see that postalveolars are articulated just a bit closer to the teeth than retroflexes.

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When you speak fast, you "don't have the time" to roll your tongue back enough and press it against the palate to pronounce proper retroflexes.

Therefore, the end result is that you have the next closest sound, which is an alveolar or postalveolar approximant, resembling the English r.


I don't suggest you summarise such rules. As a language learner, one of your goals is saying words clearly and accurately. In this way, receivers would completely understand it the first time you say sentences. Similar to New York and London, there are more outsiders living in Beijing than native speakers of Beijing dialect. Thus, Beijing dialect speakers tend to speak standard Putonghua.

If you want to learn swallow 吞音, your rate of speaking has to be as same as a native speaker. Otherwise, it sounds weird if you swallow phonemes when you speak slowly.

I don't think swallow rules are based on particular tones. All of them change to r not h. After changing, it becomes 轻声/natural tone.

I think 非常, 多少, 还是, 老师, 派出所, 为什么, 不知道 and 但是 are often swallowed. Other words are rarely swallowed nowadays.

非常 fēicháng > fēirang (ráng is at least 2 times faster than cháng, “faster”)
多少 duōshǎo > duōrao (faster)
还是 háishì > háiri (faster)
小车 xiǎo chē (儿化 rather than 吞音)> 小车儿 xiǎo chēr
老师 lǎoshī > lǎori (faster)
派出所 pàichūsuǒ > pàirusuǒ (faster)
不知道 bù zhīdào > bù ridào (faster)
但是 dànshì > dànri

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