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Being a dialect detective – how much can the numbers 1 to 10 tell us about where someone is from?

A recording of a Chinese dialect speaker counting from 1 to 10 was found. This recording was made in 2013 and the origin of the speaker is not clear. The only information we have is that this person is from the Fujian province. This information will save me some time to find the origin of the speaker, but it is not extremely helpful, since Fujian province is the homeland for the Min dialects and there are several sub-dialect groups, such as Southern Min, Eastern Min. These sub-dialects are mutually unintelligible and some dialects are not well studied and documented. With the large variety of dialects in this very complicated linguistic area, it makes it even more difficult to trace the potential origin of the dialect speaker of the recording. To find the potential origin of this dialect speaker, I have first looked for any salient features that are present in the recording. The presence of the dental fricative suggests that it is a dialect from the Puxian sub-dialect group (Lau 2007). The Puxian sub-dialect group is said to be a transitional dialect between Southern Min and Eastern Min (Cai 2012), hence I have compared the numbers of the recording with the representative dialects of both sub-dialect groups in order to compare which sub-dialect the recording is closer to, with the assumption that these sub-dialect groups form a continuum. It turns out the dialect in the recording is closer to Eastern Min (Fuzhou dialect). But… is this it? Can we narrow it down further? (Hint: yes!)