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Quest

The Chinese script has been misunderstood.

Read Quest's post and give you opinion:  

  1. 1. Read Quest's post and give you opinion:

    • I absolutely agree with Quest!
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    • I somewhat agree with Quest.
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    • I agree with Quest on some points and disagree on others.
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    • I see where Quest is coming from, but he is wrong.
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    • I totally disagree.
      2


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ala
You can bet that putonghua is spoken better in HK than in Shandong or Shanghai!

No, you will lose the bet. Shanghai's Mandarin radio broadcasters are famous nationwide, and most of the 1980's foreign films dubbing into Mandarin were done by them. Among 12-40 year olds, HK's Mandarin cannot compare with Shanghai's. It's not surprising considering the Shanghainese have spoken Mandarin since grade school. It is also amazingly easy for Northern Wu (Shanghai, Suzhou) speakers to learn Mandarin, though they are in different dialect families. Probably because they learn the Mandarin phonetics on a clean slate since there's not a lot of phonetic overlap between the two.

The only giveaway for Shanghainese speakers of Mandarin is the -ng and -n differentiation (lack of). Otherwise, the vocabulary overlaps, and the tone systems between the two dialects are different enough never to be confused.

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ala
actually, 电脑 is the misleading term, but I agree 计算机 is clumsy and it can be confused with calculators.

计算机 = computer (computing machine)

计算器 = calculator (computing tool)

There's no confusion, unless you have problems discerning a ji1 from a qi4.

The term 计算机 was first coined for large machines that did calculations (not programmable) and later naturally evolved to large mainframe computers that were performing tedious programmable computations. It has a similar evolution as the English word computer (although the English term first referred to people who did calculations and later to machines). 电脑 (a misnomer) is a newer term and is not used in any reputable publication outside of Taiwan and Hong Kong. For some reason Taiwan uses 计算机 (計算機) as calculator even though the historic connotations of 计算机 had always been much more ambitious than "calculator." In Japanese, mainframe computers are still called 計算機 (keisanki). Though コンピューター (konpyuutaa) is popular now, 計算機 is still the general term referring to all computers.

This does bring up the interesting issue that the combinations of characters to form a word cannot be randomly made. It must have a historical or logical reason. Otherwise the term will likely be considered sub-standard.

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bathrobe

I have no objection with the claim that HK has influenced Mandarin. It is perfectly true.

But does HK Chinese have the right to call itself standard Chinese? In other words, because HK people use 电梯 to mean 'escalator' and not 'lift', are we to say that this usage is standard Chinese? Standard HK variety of Cantonese, maybe, but standard Chinese?

What about the HK usage of the word 掣 to mean 'switch' or 'breaker'? Is this 'standard Chinese'. It doesn't even sound like 'switch' when pronounced in putonghua! I asked a Beijing speaker what this was and she looked at it contemptuously and said she didn't know!

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Ian_Lee

Bathrobe:

Let's clear up what we are discussing.

Basically we are not talking about Mandarin vs Cantonese. We are discussing about the dozens of new vocabulary that appear annually which every language has to face. A lot of new new vocabulary like AIDS, SARS, Avian Flu,....etc had no Chinese equivalence and needed translation.

In some languages like Japanese, it is easy to transform such terms into their own language since they have katakana.

But for idiographic language like Chinese, these new vocabulary are coined into Chinese via meaning or sound or whatsoever.

During such introductory process, there may be more than one Chinese term that is generated in various regions. Computer -- which I listed -- is the most obvious example. Even in the same Putonghua/Mandarin circle, there is more than one translation.

So which one is more standard -- Electric Brain or Electronic Calculator -- in Chinese term for computer?

I would say both terms are standard. But as time goes by, the more appropriate term will be widely used and the other will fade away.

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Ian_Lee
电脑 (a misnomer) is a newer term and is not used in any reputable publication outside of Taiwan and Hong Kong.

What do you mean by "reputable"? Even on the People's Daily website, recently I found that one of their online commercials advertises sale of 电脑

Even international brand name like Taiwan-made Acer Computer describes their products as 电脑

计算机 is a complete misnomer for computer since its function is much more than merely calculation. 计算机 might be an appropriate label for the first generation bulky computer invented in the '60s which knew calculation only.

By any judgment, 电脑 is a more appropriate translation.

By the way, in any modern Japanese language textbook, computer is taught as コンピューター. 计算机 is really an outdated term.

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Quest

Then "computer" is itself a misnomer? anyways off topic :P

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smithsgj

In Taiwan, 計算 is coming back into vogue. It's used as an adjective(-like-verby-thing) in 計算科學 and 計算語言學, computer science and computational linguistics.

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smithsgj
anyways off topic :P

Yeah, I now know the origin of the expression "lost the thread"! This is starting to look like something off of forumosa.com!

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Lu Yi Si

Ala,

Yes, on the TV etc there are good Putonghua speakers even from areas that have a strong local accent or dialect.

Maybe I was a bit strong with using Shanghai as an example, only that I know a few unhappy Chinese and have returned from Shanghai having not been able to communicate properly in day to day contact with other people and felt isolated, deaspite the fact that they could speak putonghua.

Yet if you use Putonghua in Hong Kong on the street you will have a usually response in Putonghua with a slight southern accent. If you use Putonghua in Shandong or many, many other areas in China often have a response in the local dialect giving you a hell of a time trying to understand what is going on.

That's my point, right or wrong?

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bathrobe

I think it's pretty well accepted that 电脑 is widely used in Mainland China, probably even more than the official term 计算机.

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ala

Maybe I was a bit strong with using Shanghai as an example' date=' only that I know a few unhappy Chinese and have returned from Shanghai having not been able to communicate properly in day to day contact with other people and felt isolated, deaspite the fact that they could speak putonghua. [/quote']

I think the isolation is due to behavior rather than due to the fact that Shanghainese weren't able to speak putonghua. Shanghainese people speak very standard Mandarin; far more standard than most Northern areas. In fact, most advanced communication between the Shanghainese themselves are done in Mandarin. If I'm going to have an in-depth discussion of Nietzsche and his notion of ressentment, I'm going to be speaking Mandarin, even if I'm with all Shanghainese speakers. So, you might be partially right; we use Mandarin for formal settings and technical/philosophical purposes, and we are really good at it too. Hence, we aren't used to goofing off or relaxing under Mandarin. I would initially (but only initially as it is easy to pick up slang phrases) have problems wooing girls in Mandarin; thankfully there were plenty of Shanghainese girls. But like office-level talk, and other day-to-day stuff... Mandarin is not a problem for us. So the isolation your friends talk about, may just be a combination of many things. Certainly, sitting in the bus with people everywhere speaking Shanghainese amongst themselves, would make you feel isolated. But that's not the Shanghainese's fault. If you talk to them in Mandarin, they will speak fluent Mandarin to you.

Yet if you use Putonghua in Hong Kong on the street you will have a usually response in Putonghua with a slight southern accent.

It's not just the accent, HK people's expressitivity in Mandarin is very limited, as in the choice of words. Shanghainese have a much higher command of Mandarin in general. And if you speak Mandarin on the streets in Shanghai, you would also get a response in Mandarin, with a much lighter accent too. ALL BROADCASTS (RADIO, TV), WRITING in Shanghai are in MANDARIN. Any Shanghainese who have gone through high school, can speak Mandarin to a very high level. It is like a Chinese immigrant who went to the US when he/she was 6 and had American education all the way through high school; speaking Chinese only to his parents and friends.

Putonghua in Shandong or many, many other areas in China often have a response in the local dialect giving you a hell of a time trying to understand what is going on. That's my point, right or wrong?

The thing is, Shanghainese is very different from putonghua; it's not like the Shandong dialect (which is a form of Mandarin). I can't be speaking Shanghainese and expect you to understand a word. So, if I'm deliberately speaking Shanghainese to you, I'm doing it to spite you. It's not like a regional dialect or accent, that is easily muddled with putonghua and is spoken due to habit (like people in Shandong speaking putonghua and often slipping into the regional form). Shanghai is bilingual; when I speak putonghua, my mind is in the Mandarin/putonghua mode; I'm not thinking Shanghainese at all. When I read Chinese, I read in putonghua (I'm not reading it in Shanghainese because I psychologically cannot). As far as I'm aware, in Hong Kong, people read in Cantonese pronounciation, even if the writing is in Mandarin grammar. Clearly, Shanghainese speakers are more Mandarin-dependent, and at the same time Shanghainese is detached enough from Mandarin not to cause muddling between the two (unlike Shandong-hua).

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39degN
The thing is, Shanghainese is very different from putonghua; it's not like the Shandong dialect (which is a form of Mandarin). I can't be speaking Shanghainese and expect you to understand a word. So, if I'm deliberately speaking Shanghainese to you, I'm doing it to spite you. It's not like a regional dialect or accent, that is easily muddled with putonghua and is spoken due to habit (like people in Shandong speaking putonghua and often slipping into the regional form). Shanghai is bilingual; when I speak putonghua, my mind is in the Mandarin/putonghua mode; I'm not thinking Shanghainese at all. When I read Chinese, I read in putonghua (I'm not reading it in Shanghainese because I psychologically cannot). As far as I'm aware, in Hong Kong, people read in Cantonese pronounciation, even if the writing is in Mandarin grammar. Clearly, Shanghainese speakers are more Mandarin-dependent, and at the same time Shanghainese is detached enough from Mandarin not to cause muddling between the two (unlike Shandong-hua).

yeah, frankly, the younger gen. shanghainese's mandarin is certainly perfect(i knew some shanghai girls); but i'm afraid the older one's are not so good at all, i had some colleagues from shanghai before(40-50 year-old), their putonghua are really horrible, and with a sharp accent.

agree with the shandong putonghua's point.

P.S. sorry,Quest for that i didnt contribute for this thread a little, your writing is too long, it's hard to understand for me. :conf

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Lu Yi Si

Ala,

So, from what you are telling me, Shanghai and Hong Kong seem to be actually very similar in many ways. Hong Kong with Cantonese and Shanghai with Wuhua. Both places in fact speak Putonghua as a well understood and well spoken second language.

I think things are not as they once were in Hong Kong and that Putonghua is spoken better and better year on year. Also I have saved a great deal of effort in HK speaking Putonghua when taxi drivers, hotel receptionists etc could not speak English.

Actually your information on Shanghaiese using different languages for different purposes is not unusual. I have seen this an office in Bombay speaking three langauges, English for orders, Hindi for discussion and Marathi for chatting!

Thanks for putting me right, next time I'll stick to what I know (Shandong people and dialect) (you win the bet!).

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bathrobe
Shanghai and Hong Kong seem to be actually very similar in many ways. Hong Kong with Cantonese and Shanghai with Wuhua. Both places in fact speak Putonghua as a well understood and well spoken second language.

I think I would disagree with this summing up. Yes, Shanghai and Hong Kong have one thing in common: they both have non-Mandarin dialects as the native language of locals.

But Shanghai is much more advanced on the road to 'diglossia' (use of different dialects for different functions/situations). Most people in Shanghai can speak putonghua. The tradition of reading written Chinese in dialect appears to be dying out.

In Hong Kong, Cantonese is still very strong, despite the progress being made in puthonghua education. They have news broadcasts in Cantonese, there are sections of the newspaper that are written in Cantonese, the kids are (correct me if I'm wrong) quite used to reading written Chinese with a Cantonese pronunciation. There are still lots of singers who sing in Cantonese (how many in Shanghainese?). The norm in Hongkong is stil to speak Cantonese, not putonghua. Many people still have difficulty speaking putonghua, and they use a kind of 'conversion paradigm' (it's pronounced like this in Cantonese, so the Mandarin pronunciation must be like this).

I would say that Cantonese all round is a much stronger dialect than Shanghainese, and not just in Hongkong.

I have never experienced anyone in the streets of Shanghai speaking to me in Shanghainese. I have, on the other hand, encountered people -- young people -- in Guangdong province who speak to me in Cantonese, on the assumption that I can understand it, even though I am obviously a foreigner!

People from other parts of China who come to live in Guangdong seem to find it advantageous to pick up some Cantonese. I doubt whether this is nearly so much the case in Shanghai, where most outsiders are content to use putonghua. (In Hainan, I know for a fact that most outsiders can't be bothered learning Hainanese).

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Lu Yi Si
I have never experienced anyone in the streets of Shanghai speaking to me in Shanghainese. I have, on the other hand, encountered people -- young people -- in Guangdong province who speak to me in Cantonese, on the assumption that I can understand it, even though I am obviously a foreigner!

Well, that certainly would depend on where you were in Guandong. Guangdong around Shenzhen and Guangzhou have plenty of Putonghua speakers. This is because a huge amount of the population, are in fact immigrants from the north! They probably in the main, spoke a local dialect from Hunan, Hubei, Shandong or wherever they were from originally, and now have to speak Putonghua to be understood by the rest of the northern chinese immigrants, and by local putonghua speakers. The same is increasingly true in Hong Kong, people are learning Putonghua and more Putonghua speakers are coming to the area to live.

Nobody in Shenzhen or Guangzhou has tried to speak to me in any other language than Putonghua or English. I daresay that in smaller towns and cities Guangdonghua is used and of course is more dominant.

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Ian_Lee

May I remind every poster that Cantonese speaker can also be fluent Mandarin speaker and writer even though we organize our thought in Cantonese in the brain.

Some of the most influential Cantonese in recent Chinese history:

(1) Sun Yat Sen -- everybody knows about him. If Sun's Mandarin was not good enough, how could he motivate so many non-Cantonese to devote their life for his cause?

(2) Kang Youwei -- another Cantonese who singlehandely persuaded the young Qing Emperor to implement political reform by speech and writing. If Kang's Mandarin was not superb, would the Qing Emperor be convinced?

(3) Liang Qichao -- another Cantonese who was labelled the best talented guy during late Qing early ROC era in the whole country. Yuan Shih Kai even invited him back from exile in Japan to become his Education Minister during his administration.

They all spoke both Cantonese and Mandarin. Cantonese was their mother tongue and it never imposed a hurdle for them to maneuvre Mandarin.

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smithsgj

Blimey Ian slow down! Practically every Chinese leader I've ever heard speaks the most appalling, grating, accented Mandarin. I don't think Cash-my-cheque or Mao spoke the most exemplary biaozhunde putonghua for example.

But in any case who suggested that Cantonese ppl were incapable of learning fluent mandarin? No-one on this thread!

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bathrobe
Well, that certainly would depend on where you were in Guandong. Guangdong around Shenzhen and Guangzhou have plenty of Putonghua speakers.

I think my point was not so much the presence or absence of fluent Mandarin speakers, but the concept that the sphere of use of Cantonese is wider than that of Shanghainese. In other words, its relative strength in its own sphere of influence is considerably larger than that of Shanghainese.

Perhaps people from those areas could correct me, but my impression is that Shanghainese is an 'ingroup' language just spoken by 'us' (the locals) with no great expectation that outsiders will learn it. Cantonese is a dominant dialect that has considerable strength in its own area and is more likely to be learnt by outsiders, and more expectation that outsiders will speak it to some extent.

The strength of Cantonese is also shown by the fact that it has a de facto standard (based on Guangzhou and Hongkong). Shanghai simply doesn't have the historical prestige to play the role of a standard dialect for Wu -- and neither, it appears, does any other Wu dialect.

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