I'm in Yunnan and have noticed lots of Chinese muslims and ate at one of their restaurants today. I was aware of Turkic-speaking muslim ethnic minorities in the far west of China but now I know those people, the Uyghurs, are distinct from the Hui people I have been noticing. According to Wikipedia the Hui people speak their local Chinese dialect rather than an ethnic language.

But I'm wondering if they still have some common phrases or greetings used only by Hui and not by most Han Chinese, possibly due to Islamic or Arabic language influence.

For instance do they have Sinicized equivalents to "inshallah" or the greeting "As-salamu alaykum"? Possibly translated literally or calqued into Chinese? Or possibly just adapted to the sound system of the Chinese language?

The Wikipedia article on the Hui people has a language section, but it doesn't mention anything of this nature.

  • 1
    As far as I know, no. I have two Hui friends. One of them is from Henan province and another is from Inner Mongolia. Both of them speak Mandarin and their own dialect of their home town. Nov 5, 2013 at 16:37
  • 2
    There is some mention of loan words in this book
    – going
    Nov 6, 2013 at 3:23
  • @xiaohouzi79: That's exactly what I'm looking for. Too bad it's just a tantalizing hint. I'd like to find something deeper now (-: Nov 6, 2013 at 3:56
  • Actually the APPENDIX B, A Select Glossary of Hui Chinese Islamic Terms starting on page 393 is even more what I was looking for. Nov 6, 2013 at 4:09

2 Answers 2


Yes there are. Such language in Chinese is referred to as 回回话 Huíhui huà.

Thanks to user xiaohouzi79 for pointing out the book Muslim Chinese: Ethnic Nationalism in the People's Republic By Dru C. Gladney, which is partly viewable on Google Books.

This book contains a large appendix, A Select Glossary of Hui Chinese Islamic Terms on pages 393 to 421.

Here are some Hui greetings I found, which are transliterations from Arabic:

  • 安色俩目阿莱空 Ān sè liǎ mù ā lái kōng - "Peace be to you"
  • 安色俩目,尔莱库目 Ān sè liǎ mù, ěr lái kù mù - "Peace be with you"
  • 色俩买提 Sè liǎ mǎi tí - "Peace be to you"

The glossary contains many terms relating directly to Islam and derived from Arabic, but there are many terms not pertaining to religion and terms from Persian, Turkic languages, and even wholly Chinese words used only by Hui or with additional Hui-specific senses.

Apparently Hui use Persian or Arabic numbers among themselves when bargaining so regular Chinese will not understand.

Here are a couple of other terms I found interesting:

  • 番客 Fān kè - barbarian guest, foreigner
  • 色瓦布 Sè wǎ bù - expression of thanks, "May Allah reward you"

As a traveller in China I'm interested to find out if Hui think of me as a 番客 and I will try saying 色瓦布 instead of 谢谢 next time I buy a meal from them.

  • 1
    Isn't 回回话 Dungan (and therefore limited to the Dungan people and not the larger but related Hui group)? May 1, 2017 at 23:48
  • @StumpyJoePete: good question! English Wiktionary only defines it as Dungan currently. Since I'm in China now without VPN I can't investigate what the book I mentioned says about that. May 8, 2017 at 2:53

Here is the Chinese Hui version of inshaallah (I have a Hui friend, she taught me that...)

印善安拉: yìn shàn ān lā : inshaallah

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.