I was flipping through the Xi'an dialect volume of the Great Dictionary of Modern Chinese Dialects.

On p. 206 I came across:

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and on p. 207 there is:

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There is the /pf/ initial and the aspirated consonant /pf‘/.

I'm quite curious to see what these sound like, especially since /pf/ seems like a topolectical equivalent of zh in MSM and /pf‘/ one of ch.

What do the /pf/ & /pfʰ/ initials sound like in Central Plains Mandarin?

  • Not sure if this is copyrighted; I googled "pfæ" 西安 and one result came up with 汉语方言大辞典(?).pdf. Interesting information in there; one point is that in the traditional speech in that area, 合口呼 syllables (rimes beginning with ㄨ) are not compatible with initials like 磚 and 穿. [b, v, pf, ...] are some adaptations in those topolects. Their 水 is apparently romanised as "fei".
    – dROOOze
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 11:29

1 Answer 1


I live near Xi'an and I can confirm /pf/ & /pfʰ/ are accurate. It's literally p + f. It's like pronouncing /p/ while having your teeth on the lips for /f/, so when your mouth opens, it's a natural /f/.

edit: I think it should be mentioned this is Xi'an-only. Xi'an dialect belongs to 中原官话关中片 (Central Plains Mandarin in the region of Guanzhong), but other dialects in the same subcategory doesn't have /pf/, let alone the broader category Central Plains Mandarin.

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