Non-Mandarin Chinese / 汉语方言 / 漢語方言

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Non-Mandarin Chinese / 汉语方言 / 漢語方言

Postby OldBoring » 2016-02-01, 11:52

Feel free to talk about non-Mandarin Chinese languages / dialects (including Mandarin dialects apart from Standard Mandarin, i.e. 官话方言) here.

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Re: Non-Mandarin Chinese / 汉语方言 / 漢語方言

Postby vijayjohn » 2016-02-20, 21:24

Oh yay, now we get to talk all about Qingtianese! :silly:

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Re: Non-Mandarin Chinese / 汉语方言 / 漢語方言

Postby linguoboy » 2016-02-21, 13:51

Last night coming back from the opera I passed a group chattering away in Mandarin and it made me all nostalgic. You used to hear so much more Cantonese in this city and I've always preferred the sound of it.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: Non-Mandarin Chinese / 汉语方言 / 漢語方言

Postby OldBoring » 2016-02-28, 16:14

So why did you learn Mandarin but not Cantonese?

I'd be curious if there are data about which places in North America are still Cantonese speaking, and which Mandarin speaking.
I have friends from Hebei who emigrated to Canada (don't know which city) and live in a predominantly Cantonese speaking Chinese community, so even though they are from Northern China they picked up Cantonese by living there.

In a similar way, I feel nostalgic about China in the early 2000s, where the local dialects were still the main languages spoken in the streets. In a way, it made my travelling to China during summer holidays more interesting, letting me see more diversity when going to other cities and letting me feel more at home when I went back to my hometown.

One argument is that the predominance of dialects makes the cities "排外" (discriminatory to outsiders). But I don't think so. When I had been in many cities in Southern coastal China, most people were more than happy to switch to Mandarin when speaking to tourists and people passing in town.
So I don't believe in the ‘discrimination’ argument. If anything, the predominance of Mandarin has deprived the newcomers to the city of a tool to assimilate better in the city and be considered more like a ‘local’.
In the past generation, when my mom's cousin emigrated to Shanghai, she learned to speak fluent Shanghainese, and so all the people around and her social circle don't consider her an outsider.
So yes, it has made the life of students, tourists and newcomers easier, but it has also created a situation where migrants don't learn the local vernacular, cause even if they wish, it's difficult to learn a tongue that even the locals don't speak daily anymore. And so migrants will always remain ‘outsiders’, unlike ten years ago, when as long as they learnt the local dialect, they wouldn't be considered as such anymore.

vijayjohn wrote:Oh yay, now we get to talk all about Qingtianese! :silly:

Another Mandarin-speaking place nowadays…

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Re: Non-Mandarin Chinese / 汉语方言 / 漢語方言

Postby linguoboy » 2016-02-28, 16:46

OldBoring wrote:So why did you learn Mandarin but not Cantonese?

Because our travel plans didn't include Guangdong.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: Non-Mandarin Chinese / 汉语方言 / 漢語方言

Postby raoul2 » 2016-06-14, 19:51

In 1988, Jerry Norman wrote in his book "Chinese": While great progress has been made in promoting putonghua in the last 30 years, the position of the dialects has hardly been weakened as a result, and this state of affairs can be expect to remain fairly stable for the foreseeable future.

In 2016, the situation has changed dramatically as the cities (except Hong Kong) are switching little by little to putonghua. The rapid economic development is probably one cause of this.

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Re: Non-Mandarin Chinese / 汉语方言 / 漢語方言

Postby OldBoring » 2016-06-15, 17:22

Yes, but IMO the change probably already occured some ten years ago. Besides economic growth, I would add more accessibility to mass media, young parents born in the 80s and 90s, and internal immigration.

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Re: Non-Mandarin Chinese / 汉语方言 / 漢語方言

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-01-28, 19:40

I wonder what variety of Chinese my colleague from Anhui, who also used to live in Ningbo and maybe somewhere else in Zhejiang, speaks natively. She said something about it being similar to Shanghainese, so maybe it's Xuanzhounese? I somehow doubt it's Huizhou Chinese although who knows. I wonder whether I can manage to get her to say something in her variety.

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Re: Non-Mandarin Chinese / 汉语方言 / 漢語方言

Postby OldBoring » 2017-01-31, 17:56

Huh why don't you ask her? :P
But yes, Wu is spoken in some areas in Anhui (in the easter part of it, and in some isolated parts as language islands, IIRC).
Or maybe she has lived long enough in Ningbo and in other parts of Zhejiang to speak the dialects of those places. That's also possible.

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Re: Non-Mandarin Chinese / 汉语方言 / 漢語方言

Postby lingoman » 2017-05-19, 4:42

raoul2 wrote:In 1988, Jerry Norman wrote in his book "Chinese": While great progress has been made in promoting putonghua in the last 30 years, the position of the dialects has hardly been weakened as a result, and this state of affairs can be expect to remain fairly stable for the foreseeable future.

In 2016, the situation has changed dramatically as the cities (except Hong Kong) are switching little by little to putonghua. The rapid economic development is probably one cause of this.


There are too many debates over the status of Cantonese, and the "dialect" might be a term of some sort of "degradation" to the ears of certain Cantonese speaking communities - especially for HK society. They prefer to call it a "language".

I've read many discussions about the status of the Cantonese and understand that difference between a "language" and a "dialect". I am from Sichuan so my native tongue should be "Sichuanese", which I won't hesitate a second to refer to as a "dialect" - it's easily mutual-intelligible with Mandarin as long as we don't purposely use local slangs.

Cantonese is apparently a different situation. Most mandarin speakers would be deaf to Cantonese speeches, and I would assume the vice versa should there not be so many Mandarin TV programs made available to Cantonese speaking communities these years - they are NOT mutual-intelligible by pronunciation, despite that the writing forms are the same/similar.

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Re: Non-Mandarin Chinese / 汉语方言 / 漢語方言

Postby linguoboy » 2017-05-19, 14:49

lingoman wrote:There are too many debates over the status of Cantonese, and the "dialect" might be a term of some sort of "degradation" to the ears of certain Cantonese speaking communities - especially for HK society. They prefer to call it a "language".

I've read many discussions about the status of the Cantonese and understand that difference between a "language" and a "dialect". I am from Sichuan so my native tongue should be "Sichuanese", which I won't hesitate a second to refer to as a "dialect" - it's easily mutual-intelligible with Mandarin as long as we don't purposely use local slangs.

Cantonese is apparently a different situation. Most mandarin speakers would be deaf to Cantonese speeches, and I would assume the vice versa should there not be so many Mandarin TV programs made available to Cantonese speaking communities these years - they are NOT mutual-intelligible by pronunciation, despite that the writing forms are the same/similar.

"Mutually intelligibility" is often held up as the chief criterion for distinguishing a "dialect" from a "language", but in fact the distinction is ultimately political. Sichuanese and Standard Mandarin are probably no less mutually intelligible than Danish and Norwegian and may even be at the level of Spanish and Italian or Bulgarian and Macedonian.

In his book The Chinese mosaic, Leo Moser uses the term "sublanguage" for first-order divisions of Sinitic such as Mandarin, Yue, Wu, Hakka, etc. I think it's a good term: it recognises both the fact that these varieties are different enough that in a different political context (e.g. one more similar to contemporary Europe), they would unequivocally be considered "languages". But it also acknowledges the current political situation, which is that Standard Chinese is the only written form most speakers recognise regardless of what vernacular varieties they speak.

The status of Cantonese (the prestige variety of Yue) is interesting because it does have a more-or-less standard written form which actually gets some use. It also has more prestige and recognition than other varieties due to the political status of Hong Kong. If you think of there being a continuum between dialects which go unrecognised outside of their local range and official standard languages, it's much closer to the latter than any other variety apart from Taiwanese Hokkien (臺語).
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: Non-Mandarin Chinese / 汉语方言 / 漢語方言

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-09-16, 3:59

OldBoring wrote:Huh why don't you ask her? :P

I did eventually. She speaks 合肥话, which has enough Wu influence in it to not really be mutually intelligible with Mandarin.


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