People have long joked, 天不怕地不怕只怕四川人说普通话 – there is nothing to fear but the Sichuanese speaking Mandarin, and it can be true…

With a large lack of retroflex sounds (ch, zh, sh, etc.), confusions on h/f, n/l, s/c initial consonants and n/ng, en/un, ian/uan finals, it can be difficult for even those who have learned Mandarin for many years to understand and to be understood by people in Chengdu or further afield in Sichuan province.

Indeed Sichuanese remains the 8th most spoken language in the world, spoken in some form by approximately 200 million people. The language is funny, energetic and extremely satisfying to learn. Sam Bowden, who is passionate about this beautiful language put together an Introduction to Sichuanese last year and will be sharing some of his favourite Sichuanese phrases over the next few months.




Wow, your kid is so cute!


Oh, yeah? Thanks!




Do you think the stuff at Chunxi Road is all fake?


I dunno, you’d better be careful.

la3 go4


Who’s that handsome guy on the TV?


Him? That’s Jack Ma, of course!

gai3 sou3
(to) go to the bathroom


I’m busting! I gotta go to the bathroom!


Go on the grass over there then!

Tone Guide

Tones in Sichuanese are also different to text book Mandarin. Every city, village, town will also have its own little variations. Some tones start higher, others lower, some don’t drop and some don’t rise. There is a methods of using ‘tone values’ to distinguish Sichuanese tones, which you can read more about at

Sam Bowers |

More information from language curious founder of Sichuanese platform PricklyAsh official WeChat account and app at

Sam is passionate about preserving and conserving Sichuanese language materials.