Xiang (Hunanese) is spoken by about 36 million people in China,
mainly in Hunan (湖南) province, particularly in the cities
of Changsha (长沙), Zhuzhou (株洲), Xiangtan
(湘潭), Yiyang (益阳), Loudi (娄底),
Hengyang (衡阳) and Shaoyang (邵阳).
There are also Xiang speakers in southern Shaanxi (陕西),
southern Anhui (安徽), northeast Guangxi (广西),
Sichuan (四川) and Guizhou (贵州) provinces.
Some scholars divide Xiang into two distinct varieties:
Old Xiang, which is spoken in the southern parts of the Xiang-speaking
area, and New Xiang, which can be heard in the northern Xiang-speaking
area and has been influenced by Mandarin. Xiang names for these varieties are
娄底话 /siɔ̃44 ny42/
or Loudi language for New Xiang and 长沙话 /ɕiæ̃33
y41/ or Changsha language for Old Xiang.
Xiang pronunciation (Pinfa romanisation system)
The Pinfa romanization system was developed by Dr C. F. Lau,
a.k.a. Liu Zin Fad (劉鎮發) for Hakka, and
was later adapted for Xiang and Gan.
There are three main groups of Xiang dialects:
Chángyì sub-group (長益片), which is spoken
in Changsha (长沙), Yiyang (益阳) and 29 other cities and counties.
Lóushào sub-group (婁邵片) which is spoken in
Loudi (娄底) Shaoyang (邵阳) and 19 other cities and
Jíxù subgroup (吉漵片), which is spoken in
Jishou (吉首), Xupu (漵浦) and 6 other cities and counties.