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早期的江南地区主要是古越族人的居住地,他们使用的古越语与古汉语相差很远。后来,北方汉人几次大规模的南迁使得北方古汉语被带到了江南各地,于是逐步形成了现在的各个方言。

My geography is not good.

Is 江南 everything south of 长江, or just the Southeast corner of China?

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Wikipedia describes Jiangnan as:

Jiangnan or Jiang Nan (Chinese: 江南; pinyin: Jiāngnán; formerly romanized Kiang-nan, literally "South of the River" meaning "South of the Yangtze") is a geographic area in China referring to lands immediately to the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, including the southern part of its delta. The region encompasses the city of Shanghai, the southern part of Jiangsu Province, the southeastern part of Anhui Province, the northern part of Jiangxi Province and the northern part of Zhejiang Province. The most important cities in the area include Anqing, Changzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Ningbo, Shaoxing, Suzhou, Wuxi, Wenzhou, and Zhenjiang.

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"江南" has different meaning in different period. But in most period, it means the south bank of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River(长江南岸), which is the whole area of ​​Zhejiang(浙江全部), southern Jiangsu(江苏南部), southern Anhui(安徽南部) and Shanghai(上海).

The most iconic city: Suzhou(苏州), Nanjing(南京), Yangzhou(扬州), Hangzhou(杭州), Shanghai, etc.

For me, "江南" means the most area of Wu dialect(吴语区), including Southern Jiangsu, Shanghai, most of Zhejiang(浙江大部), southeast and south of Anhui(安徽东南及东部), northeast of Jiangxi(江西东北部).

Special mention: Yangzhou is located on the north bank of the Yangtze River(长江北岸), but has long been counted as a part of Jiangnan, because everything there is very similar to Jiangnan, such as garden style and food. But in modern times, Yangzhou gradually declined and was "kicked out" by Jiangnan.

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