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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!
      7
    • I somewhat agree with Quest.
      4
    • I agree with Quest on some points and disagree on others.
      6
    • I see where Quest is coming from, but he is wrong.
      5
    • I totally disagree.
      2


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bathrobe
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.

ala has alread answered this, but just as an aside, your observation might be akin to saying that the Dutch speak better English than the Irish.

The Dutch have their own language (dialect in the Chinese situation) but in my experience they learn to speak excellent English at school.

An Irishman, on the other hand, speaks native English, but some have a hell of a brogue that makes them very difficult to understand!

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Lu Yi Si
An Irishman, on the other hand, speaks native English, but some have a hell of a brogue that makes them very difficult to understand!

Irish, are they native speakers, as such? The accent is a recipient from the original Irish Galic language. Hense the brogue, mother tongue influence. This still effects people who have never been able to understand Irish galic, yet are Irish and come from Ireland. It has also effected the development of English in Australia and the United States, even England too. It's not very relevent though, as British English has so many accents within the country which cause even more difficulty. :-?

Back to the topic, you only need to look at Hong Kong movie stars to see bilingual native Cantonese speakers.

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ala
Back to the topic, you only need to look at Hong Kong movie stars to see bilingual native Cantonese speakers.

Hehe. Many can also speak a little Shanghainese (like Maggie Cheung). Michelle Reis, Carina Lau, Rebecca Pan are fluent/native Shanghainese speakers. They are even good enough to do an "old style" Shanghainese accent.

But it seems all Shanghainese speakers are Shanghainese speakers by long-term (multiple generations) familial relationship with Shanghai. Very few will actually learn the dialect in the first generation (from scratch) due to the little willingness amongst native speakers to cooperate. For a dialect that has changed so dramatically over the last hundred years, it is very strange that there is little tolerance for incorrect pronounciation among its speakers. Like bathrobe said, it is indeed an insider/outsider clique language. This is the major source of its decline and limited influence as Shanghainese speakers would rather speak Mandarin themselves than have others learning their dialect.

It also needs to be added that the major proponents for a standardized language based on Mandarin have always been native Wu speakers, and less native Mandarin speakers. Pioneering modern vernacular Chinese literature in Mandarin were mostly written in the Wu-speaking region of China. Thus the relationship with Mandarin for Wu-speakers is very different from Cantonese speakers. The Wu dialects are perceived as functionally different from Mandarin. Each Wu dialect serves as an "insider" language and Mandarin serves as a tool for modern communication and cultural expression. Hence, there are no modern Shanghainese songs. To most Wu speakers, the modern Chinese identity first became expressed through the Mandarin medium, and thus modern Chinese culture takes its roots in Mandarin.

Yes, those who voted against Cantonese as the national language were actually mostly native Wu speakers.

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skylee

The way Michelle Reis 李嘉欣 speaks Shanghainese is amazing (note her Portuguese last name). I don't know shanghainese at all, but I watched her in 海上花 (a movie about prostitutes in Shanghai during Qing Dynasty directed by 侯孝賢) and she seemed very comfortable speaking it. Her co-star 梁朝偉 was of course as usual quite incapable of speaking in anything else other than Cantonese and therefore played a court officer from Canton. (梁朝偉 was quite unwilling to act using an unfamiliar language, which was part of the reason why his role in 悲情城市, another movie directed by 侯孝賢, was mute.) Oh this is quite off the topic now.

Yes, those who voted against Cantonese as the national language were actually mostly native Wu speakers.

Rivalry :wink:

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geek_frappa

Quest makes some good points.

hard to disagree. is there an area of study for this topic?

i'd like to read more into it.

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Quest
For a dialect that has changed so dramatically over the last hundred years, it is very strange that there is little tolerance for incorrect pronounciation among its speakers. Like bathrobe said, it is indeed an insider/outsider clique language.

I believe the degree of tolerance depends on the foreign accent's status and influence. If you admire the culture behind that accent, you would likely tolerate it or even love it, else...

The natural(unforced) change of an accent from within one area can only be so "dramatic". It would only be that both accents are totally acceptable, but not necessarily make the speakers more tolerant towards other outside accents.

Same thing in Guangzhou, I noticed my Cantonese was a different version than my grandmother's, in terms of word choice and accent, but since it's a gradual change in society, both accents are accepted by the "insiders". However, it didn't make us more tolerant towards outside accent either, it's often a pain to listen to people who speak even slightly off the standard. (Are HK people more tolerant towards Hakka, ChaoZhou, or other outsiders' accents?)

The fact that Chinese is tonal only makes things worse. It's more annoying to hear wrong tones than to hear wrong pronunications.

Anyways, just giving Roddy an excuse to close this thread :P since we are going off topic, and he doesn't like long threads. :wall

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Ian_Lee

Quest:

In HK, a lot of non-Cantonese speak Cantonese with strong accent.

Li Ka Shing speaks Cantonese with strong Chaozhou accent and everybody pays attention to what he said.

Tung Chee Hwa speaks Cantonese with Shanghai accent and everybody also pays attention to what he said (though some with disdain).

Many local Britons, Filipino and Indians also speak Cantonese with foreign accents.

Some time ago they even held a speaking Cantonese contest for Filipino maids on TV show. Amazingly some spoke very fluent Cantonese even though they had been in the city for just a couple of years.

Seldom do people in HK laugh at your accent.

But there is a difference between HK and Guangzhou. In HK, many non-Cantonese newcomers, no matter they came recently or a long time ago, be they Fujianese, Shanghaiese or Chaozhouese, would try hard to learn Cantonese and get assimilated as fast as possible.

But that is not the case with Guangzhou.

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Quest
In HK, many non-Cantonese newcomers, no matter they came recently or a long time ago, be they Fujianese, Shanghaiese or Chaozhouese, would try hard to learn Cantonese and get assimilated as fast as possible.

But that is not the case with Guangzhou.

That WAS the case only a few years back!

Now they tend to try to get by with their mandarin.

CLOSE THE DOORS! ( :twisted: )

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Ian_Lee

Quest:

Why close the door?

Just make them feel the need and have the love to use Cantonese. Now even Nepalese in HK are asking the school authority to devise curriculum for them to learn Cantonese in lieu of French.

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Quest

Ian_Lee, you can't do that when the government and the media officials are all BJ appointed mandarin speakers, and when the number of mandarin speaking people overshadows the natives. We are still majority.... just hanging on there... but if the situation doesn't improve, they are going to push us out. They would just keep coming if you don't close the doors. You only need a train ticket to go to Guangzhou, and Guangzhou has the highest per capita income in the whole country. They just flock in!

It's also hard to control the crime rate when you have a huge flowing population.

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Ian_Lee

Guest:

I understand Guangzhou's predicament.

Actually the media gurus (majority shareholders of TVB and ATV) in HK are also Mandarin speakers. But their programs are mostly made in Cantonese.

One of the few merits of Tung's administration is the flourishing of Cantonese culture after '97 (though admittedly somewhat at the cost of deterioration of standard of English).

Policies like teaching by mother tongue (Cantonese) helps somewhat.

In fact, Hong Kong is the only city where you can watch Shakespeare play in grand cultural complex conducted in a local dialect like Cantonese.

NYT has even written an article focusing on this phenomenon.

So don't worry about the losing of Cantonese lustre in Guangzhou. You can still gain that back by taking a 2-hour trip to HK to refresh that good feeling.

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geek_frappa

Quest, Ian_Lee:

borders don't work. migration is inevitable in every culture in every part of the world.

and also, cantonese will become strong again. it's an innovative language that is evolving. look at how the mainlanders are immitating Hong Kongers now with 'lei'. the other day, a programmer wrote 'diu lei!' instead of 'diu nei!' ...

as GZ becomes stronger in technology, cantonese is a great way to communicate feelings.

besides, Cantonese is God's language. :tong

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geek_frappa

CantoMandarin? a new language?

nei hao!

wo giujouh cha shao bao!

dunno lu

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Quest

are you cantonese geek?

now roddy will just click X X X X X X X ... :clap

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smithsgj

老外. In at least one of his personae.

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dmoser

The point is certainly valid that Chinese script and alphabetic scripts are organized on different principles, and the complexity of each is distributed differently. Chinese orthography is graphically more complex, while English orthography is graphically simple but involves a host of very imperfect sound-to-symbol rules. But even so, it is not true that the ratio of effort to effect evens out. The Chinese set really is harder to learn, harder to remember, and harder to retain, for the simple reason that there is only a very weak correspondence to the sounds of Chinese.

I have a paper available on the Internet called "Why Chinese is So Damn Hard", which is available at:

www.pinyin.info/readings/texts/1991Moser.pdf

I also have two other "lite" papers (i.e. humorous but with a serious intent) on the subject of how Chinese script is more difficult than alphabetic scripts, which I'd be glad to send to anyone interested.

([email protected]). I also recommend, in addition to John DeFrancis' books, a book by William Hannas called "Asia's Orthographic Dilemma", which details all these issues.

By the way, I sometimes teach English to Beijing third graders, and many of them can read and write common words in English that they haven't yet learned to write in their own script. This should tell us something.

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Taibei
I also recommend, in addition to John DeFrancis' books, a book by William Hannas called "Asia's Orthographic Dilemma", which details all these issues.

I have excerpts from several of these books on my site:

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