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Sichuanese aka 四川话


dynaemu
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Hello, I'm a beginner at learning Mandarin, I've always wanted to live in Chengdu or Chongqing, so I decided maybe I should go tackle Sichuanhua instead... all I know is it's just a dialect of mandarin that has different pronunciations, tones, and some word replacements (mainly colliqualisms)

Would this be a smart move, or should I just stick to Putonghua?

I'm asking because I heard Sichuanhua was spoken alot in Sichuan/Chongqing, and I like the way it sounds. =)

Thank you!

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Would this be a smart move, or should I just stick to Putonghua?

Yeah, stick to Mandarin. If you hang out with locals you'll naturally pick up some Sichuanhua.

I heard Sichuanhua was spoken alot in Sichuan/Chongqing, and I like the way it sounds. =)

You have very unique tastes.

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I really don't understand why any foreigner would bother to only learn a dialect and not Mandarin. Perhaps someone can enlighten me on the benefits of limiting one's ability to communicate by learning a dialect only a few hundred million speak over learning a standard language that over a billion people can understand.

Stick with Mandarin. If for whatever reason you leave Sichuan (travel, work, relocation, etc) you'll be able to reassimilate much easier. IMHO, learning Sichuanese (or any other dialect) is just limiting your potential if your not learning standard Mandarin alongside it.

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I really don't understand why any foreigner would bother to only learn a dialect and not Mandarin. Perhaps someone can enlighten me

1. It’s the dialect your wife speaks with her family and friends, and you don’t want to feel left out of the conversation.

2. You’ve settled (I mean long-term) in Hong Kong, for example, and daily life happens in Cantonese.

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Since Sichuanhua and Mandarin are quite similar you should first learn Mandarin, then Sichuanhua. If you want to learn dialects I would try to aim just for listening proficiency. For me, at least, trying to alternate between speaking in Sichuanhua and speaking in Mandarin is nearly impossible; however, most people in China will understand you if you speak in clear Mandarin, so you can have them speak to you in dialect and you can reply in Mandarin.

The big differences between sichuanhua and mandarin are consonant and tone changes.

I put up a primer on my website (http://www.barking-at-the-sun.net/language ) a long time ago that lists these changes, accompanied by an audio file (of poor quality). I'm planning on updating it soon, including some common vocabulary differences between Mandarin and Sichuanhua.

Also, I would agree with dynaemu--I think Sichuanhua is the coolest sounding Chinese dialect, and I certainly wish I could speak it.

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Where to start???

Luobot pretty much has it, It'd be nice to be able to converse with plenty of the locals around the area

First Luobot didn't say anything of that nature...she said if you are settling long term or have family there. You DO NOT need Sichuan to get along in conversation with the locals.... AT ALL. Yes maybe some of the old people (and I'm talking over 60 here, yes you will find some middle age to even 30's with really heavy sichuanhua) but for the rest of the people you don't need to specifically learn it. Learn a phrase here and there as you go and you will mainly impress the people. Most people now use what is called 椒盐普通话 which means a kind of watered-down sichuanhua. Take my word for it...learn mandarin as the usages of it are much wider than that of sichuanhua...not to mention it is a "dying" dialect, and what I mean by that is that it is no longer taught, it is simply passed on. No text books, no teachers, the rules and words aren't clear, and on many things there is disagreement between the areas on what is "correct", mandarin is getting added in more and more with the youngens and within two generations Sichuanhua will no longer be a "hua" it will be a "kouyin".

Mandarin and Sichuanhua (as pointed out) are very close so if you spend time learning mandarin and a bit effort on the side you will pick up sichuanhua pretty quick. But it won't work as easy the other way around for the aforementioned reasons.

Last quick note: I think it is weird that you two think it is the best sounding dialect, it is a very ruff, gruff, a 刺耳 dialect.

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Best stick with Mandarin, not only is it more useful, there are also a lot more resources to learn it. Sichuanese will understand you no problem, and you can learn/pick up the local dialect once you live there.

I never really went to Sichuan, but heard the dialect in a movie and really liked it, too.

I'd also learn Mandarin before learning any dialect (except perhaps if you live in HK and only in HK for the long term), but if you have the time and the interest learning the local dialect is very worthwhile, in my opinion.

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The comparison between Sichuanese and Mandarin above absolutely makes sense, but how many of us who live in China can really speak and write fluent mandarin after knowing mandarin is so important. In my opinion, it isn't necessary to be too money-minded at learning language, learning what you're interested can make the life more interesting.

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I don't like the way Sichuanhua sounds, but think it's gorgeous compared to Kunminghua. :mrgreen:

But I'm weird, because I think Cantonese sounds beautiful!

BTW, love the title of your blog, kmmorr - that's one of my favorite idioms, and I think I almost barked at the blue skies the summer I went home after my first year in CD. :lol:

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Xiao Kui--thanks, you're the first person who's mentioned that. It's never good for a blog about China to not have "China" in it's title, but, oh well, like you I just really like that chengyu, and I think it's a really fitting way to describe any foreigner's reactions to China.

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Kmmorr: I read the Sichuanhua stuff on your website a few months ago, I thought it was fantastic, not least because I couldn't find anything like it anywhere else. Glad to hear an update is in the works (no pressure!).

dynaemu: I'd agree with everyone else, learn the standard language. but if you are somewhere where they speak a dialect, it's always fun to learn at least a bit of that too -- partly because it helps you work out if a phrase or a word you hear on the street is standard chinese or a variation.

what I find funny is that these days you wouldn't expect someone "educated" to say they were proud about speaking "high quality" local language -- good putonghua is of course a primary indicator of good education etc. and people can seem a bit snobbish about it.

but before putonghua was introduced, people spoke their local languages and I believe that those who had good educations in particular would like to think they could speak it "better" than others.

I guess it's quite common to get teachers telling you off if local dialect inadvertently creeps into your putonghua, so it's a shock if a professor, say, in his 70s or 80s tells you how high quality (ie educated) his whavever-hua is.

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realmayo--I'm glad you found it useful--it was a labor of love, and I was pretty pessimistic about the likelihood that people would find the site and/or find the primer to be useful. Actually, I'll probably do some updates next week. I finished writing about four other sections of the primer over four months ago, but I ended up spending so much time on the primer, that I forgot entirely about my mandarin, which then regressed into a state of sucking. As people have observed, it's better to work on Mandarin first, and indeed since then this is all I've been doing.

Now that I'm spending time with a lot more locals (read: my girlfriend's family) I'm finding I really need to improve my sichuanhua, and so this will probably be enough to motivate me to finish the primer

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Muyongshi when were there textbooks written in Sichuanhua? I studied in Chengdu but I never saw any Sichuanhua textbooks which gets at your point but have you seen any? I would say that mostly you can get by on Mandarin but you really wont be endeared unless you can understand some Sichuanhua but for that you really need to be on the 5 to 10 year plan after you've first gotten your putonghua down. However if you are in Chengdu you'll probably get okay with Sichuanhua but not like the locals who do use it alot I think it's fun to hear it too by the way it used to be off putting but it becomes pretty cool after a while.

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The only thing that I have ever come across was more of a academic/linguistic thing on 四川话 and not a learning tool and that was pointed out to me by Roddy at one point.... Let me see if I can go find that....

Here

As you notice that thread was started by me in one of my early attempts at getting very serious in my learning. My teacher has at different times given me some of foundation work in 四川话 and that coupled with my time here and always picking up new words and phrases leaves me at a decent place even before that attempt above. Every attempt that I have tried to do to learn more in a very concentrated and focused effort has been met with a lack of a road in which to accomplish my goals even though I am surrounded by native speakers. I ask my friends to talk to me more using sichuanhua but when it comes down to it as we have no problems in communication in mandarin or even in using 椒盐普通话 we just wind up using that as they don't want to have to be explaining everything for the purpose of learning. Yes I would understand a high percentage of what they said but that is not enough to rely "learn" as there is no ability to analyze large amounts of data and continue with the learning process.

Needless to say, I learn at this point through vicarious learning which is way more than sufficient! In regards to how you put it "endearded" it's not necessary. Learn madarin, they will mainly understand you except for a few random ones and you will pick the basics up quickly but you are right that if you want to learn both it is a 5-10 year investment but it's not about having mandarin fully down first. You can pick up a lot at the same time especially as the two are both part of the northern dialectal groups.

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  • 1 month later...

you can find a couple sichuanhua listening tests on youtube, while we're on the topic. sichuan university also offers an elective course in sichuanhua, but it's more of an academic study conducted in mandarin than it is teaching students how to speak it.

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  • 2 months later...

I was brought up in Changing and I am currently in Shenzhen, Guangdong. I am really glad that you love the dialect and culture of Sichuan. Nothing is absolutely wrong or right. If you really like it so much, you can learn Sichuanhua at the time when are learning Mandarin. If you are going to stay in Sichuan for long time and want to make more local friends, you’d better learn some Sichuan. I have spent 3 years in Guangdong but I still cannot understand Cantonese and this really bothers me very often. If I can speak Cantonese, I would have made much more friends. By the way, can you tell me why you are so fond of Sichuan? I only like Sichuan dishes. Hot. Hot .H ot. I am slobbering.

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