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Ian_Lee

10 most difficult dialects

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Ian_Lee

According to this poster in the People's Daily forum, the ten most difficult dialects as perceived by a Putonghua speaker (from easiest to hardest):

http://bbs.people.com.cn/bbs/ReadFile?whichfile=13079113&typeid=14

10. Dongbeihua

9. Tianjinhua

8. Shandonghua

7. Sichuanhua

6. Changsha dialect

5. Shaanxihua

4. Shanghaiese

3. Suzhouhua (tie)

3. Southern Fujianese (tie)

2. Cantonese

1. Wenzhouhua

According to the poster, Wenzhouhua is so hard to understand that Wenzhouese worked as "windtalkers" for 8th route army during the Sino-Japanese war.

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wushijiao

Kind of a random list, but the poster has pretty good rationale for his/her selections.

As far as the dialects that are generally not considered to be branches of Mandarin (1-5), I think it might make sense to say that Cantonese is the easiest. Why? Because it seems to be the only dialect with a fairly wide range of learning materials.

I also think that the use of Cantonese in the official media helps. For example, when riding the Hong Kong subway, I'd look at the map, and they woud announce the name in English, Cantonese, and Mandarin. I don't think it would be to hard to memorize the characters of the metro stops and their Cantonese pronunciations if you rode the metro every day. Small things like this would help. On the other hand, to this day I have no idea what some of the most common metro stops are called in Shanghaiese, because Putonghua is the only dialect used. I don't know. :conf

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wai ming

Interesting list.

I found this quite odd:

但是我把广东话排名第二的原因是,广东话不只有自己独特的发音,还有自己的文字

If anything, I would have thought being able to write Cantonese in hanzi should make it easier to learn for a native Mandarin speaker. It's not as if Cantonese is written in an entirely different script.

I've never heard Wenzhounese, but I personally think Hokkien (I guess I mean 闽南话, but I don't know the difference between 闽南话 and 闽北话) would be quite hard to learn. I found a blog written in romanised Hokkien* (Wa Si Hokkien Lang), and I can't make head or tail of most of it. It's fun trying to though :mrgreen:

(*I should add that it's the kind of Hokkien spoken in Malaysia/Singapore, with some Malay + English thrown in for good measure. :D )

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Quest
Wa si hokkien lang..dan si wa beh hiao gong hokkien wueh..

我是福建人,但是我不晓讲福建话。

nice, I understand that...

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HashiriKata
to write Cantonese in hanzi should make it easier to learn for a native Mandarin speaker. It's not as if Cantonese is written in an entirely different script.
He perhaps means to say that Cantonese has some characters that don't exist in Mandarin? (Of course we know one can move the Taishan to another location if one's got the will :mrgreen: )

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atitarev

Wushijiao made a good point about exposure to dialects.

Wenzhou seems to have been isolated for a long time, therefore the eccentricity of the dialect.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wenzhou#Language_and_culture

The dialects on the top of the list are variations of Mandarin, no wonder they are the "easiest" (from Mandarin speakers' pont of view LOL)

I would put Cantonese higher above dialects of Wu because there are limited resources to learn Wu but a lot for Cantonese, so there's more exposure.

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somedude

its hard for me to understand why cantonese is placed as number 2 since i grew up listening to it. However, I have to say its not incredibly hard to learn if you really gave it a try. There is a significant amount of vocabulary that has a 1-1 correspondence.

i.e. 如果 is read ru2 guo3 in mandarin and yu goh(i'm not a master in cantonese pinyin as you can tell)

It's just a matter of the amount of experience you have listening to the different ways to pronounce words that determines how well you understand it. Speaking it on the other hand, is obviously a lot more difficult.

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Quest
i.e. 如果 is read ru2 guo3 in mandarin and yu goh(i'm not a master in cantonese pinyin as you can tell)

yu4 guo2 is the correct Cantonese pronunciation. I think "goh" is considered 懒音。

I agree Cantonese should be easy to learn for a Mandarin speaker.Listening is even easier.

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wannabeafreak
yu4 guo2 is the correct Cantonese pronunciation.

Actually its jyu4 gwo2

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flameproof
According to this poster in the People's Daily forum, the ten most difficult dialects as perceived by a Putonghua speaker

Wouldn't be any non-sino-tibetean language harder to learn?

For a Mandarin speaker Canto has quite similar grammar and a similar written script. Monglian or some Xinjiang language would be more of a challeng I guess.

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Quest
Actually its jyu4 gwo2

I never understand the "j"... and why "jy"...

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wannabeafreak
I never understand the "j"... and why "jy"...

Its because you haven't learnt how to read the romanisation yet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jyutping

http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/essays/jyutping.htm

http://www.answers.com/topic/jyutping

Simply;

J = Y (English)

C = CH (English)

Z = J (English)

Then when you add "Y" after characters like K,S,J etc. it changes the pronunciation for which I'm sure you can work out from the following:

決定 kyut3 ding6 = to decide

包括 baau1 kut3 = including

Then you've got words like:

想 soeng2 = to want

靚女 leng3 neoi2 = pretty girl

It takes less than 15 minutes to learn how to read Jyutping:

Adam Sheik's guide on the cantonese.sheik.co.uk site explains it nice and clearly.

I simply can't stand to read people's dodgy romanisation like "lei tai ng doe ah". So many people can't be bothered to learn how to write properly and end up with some [email protected]

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Ian_Lee

wannabeafreak:

But if someone (like Quest and me) is born a native Cantonese speaker, why should he bother to learn the romanization of Cantonese?

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wannabeafreak
But if someone (like Quest and me) is born a native Cantonese speaker, why should he bother to learn the romanization of Cantonese?

Well why does every Mainlander bother to learn Mandarin Pinyin? There is a perfectly good ping3 jam1 system for Cantonese. It helps in computer input too using the Jyutping IME system my wife uses to type her MSN etc.

Also I'm sure they use Jyutping at Hong Kong universities for people studying linguistics.

It only takes less than 15 minutes to learn Jyutping - a small investment with great returns.

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wai ming

Well, I think we're getting a bit off topic here, but I think it's good for native Cantonese speakers to learn some form of standard romanisation if they want to teach non-native speakers Cantonese. The worst thing for a learner is seeing different romanisations for words which should rhyme. Also, I think it makes people more aware of pronouncing words accurately (especially with the -p, -t and -k stops in Cantonese).

That said, I still prefer Yale over Jyutping, if only because of that initial "j". I'm too used to English j's.

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sjcma
Well why does every Mainlander bother to learn Mandarin Pinyin? There is a perfectly good ping3 jam1 system for Cantonese. It helps in computer input too using the Jyutping IME system my wife uses to type her MSN etc.

Also I'm sure they use Jyutping at Hong Kong universities for people studying linguistics.

It only takes less than 15 minutes to learn Jyutping - a small investment with great returns.

So why did you learn Jyutping instead of Standard Cantonese Pinyin? Is it because that's what the teacher teaches or did you make the decision on your own?

As to the value of learning Cantonese romanization for the native speaker, it really depends on the person. My wife doesn't have a need to romanize anything in Cantonese. She doesn't need to read it, she doesn't need to write it, and neither do I, except in forums such as this.

Regarding why Mainlanders _bother_ to learn Hanyu Pinyin, it's because they had no choice. That's what they were taught. Most people on Taiwan do not know any romanization standards for Mandarin.

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wannabeafreak
So why did you learn Jyutping instead of Standard Cantonese Pinyin? Is it because that's what the teacher teaches or did you make the decision on your own?

As to the value of learning Cantonese romanization for the native speaker, it really depends on the person. My wife doesn't have a need to romanize anything in Cantonese. She doesn't need to read it, she doesn't need to write it, and neither do I, except in forums such as this.

Regarding why Mainlanders _bother_ to learn Hanyu Pinyin, it's because they had no choice. That's what they were taught. Most people on Taiwan do not know any romanization standards for Mandarin.

Standard Cantonese Pinyin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Cantonese_Pinyin) is impossible to read! Standard Cantonese romanisation uses 9 tones while Jyutping uses 6 tones. I've never met a single person to master the Standard Cantonese Pinyin.

I study Cantonese full-time. I use Adam Sheik's dictionary (cantodict) for hours each day http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/dictionary/ and his dictionary uses Jyutping. I have a few books that use Yale and I keep making pronunciation mistakes. Most of the people on Adam's Cantonese forum uses Jyutping for which I think has superior accuracy in outlining pronunciation.

When I learnt Jyutping my pronunciation immediately improved and I can say every word accurately. My Cantonese tutor doesn't even know Standard Cantonese Pinyin, Jyutping or Yale. He is from Guangzhou and knows only Pinyin. So I romanise everything he says using Jyutping without any of his assistance. For speed and accuracy, Jyutping is best I think. Especially long/short sounding characters can be captured accurately through Jyutping.

I attended a dodgy school in Sydney once and the teacher just said to make up your own romanisation. This was a terrible mistake. I ended up writing some [email protected] and my pronunciation of words was terrible.

I think its important to learn how to romanise with something easy if your intention is to teach Cantonese. I think with Yale the person eventually ends up writing some rubbish like "ngorr haai joong gwock yahn". At least know the tones that correspond to each character is important I think too. Nothing worse than revising notes that have incorrect tones next to each word.

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Quest

I agree romanization is a good thing, but still the "j" bothers me.. Is it necessary? Is "yu" a different word than "jyu"?

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wannabeafreak
I agree romanization is a good thing, but still the "j" bothers me..

Well something that needs to get used to. German learners are capable of saying "J" as an English "Y" so can Cantonese learners then.

Is it necessary? Is "yu" a different word than "jyu"?

It's absolutely necessary, look at the following:

決 kyut3

括 kut3

The "y" in Jyutping has a different function as it modifes the pronunciation of "u" to be more like the english pronunciation of "you". So [letter]+"yu"+[letter] sounds totally different to [letter]+"u"+[letter] as proved by the usage of 決 kyut3 and 括 kut3

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skylee

I agree with Quest. I dislike that "j" too.

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