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Chinese accents (not dialects)


JenniferW

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Where in China do you hear local residents speaking with pronunciation most like the 'official' putonghua pronunciation? My guess would be somewhere in the north-east, but I lived a while in Shenyang, and it wasn't the case there.

And how far out of Beijing do you have to go before you stop hearing the Beijing -r?

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It is often said that Harbin has the most 'standard' Mandarin. I knew a girl from Harbin, and her chinese was extremely clear and standard like on CCTV. But I've never been there myself, and I'm not sure if even uneducated people speak like that.

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I'm in Harbin right now... they do seem to pride themselves in having the "standard" Mandarin. There's a sign in our foreign student building that says: "学汉语到中国,学普通话到哈尔滨,学标准普通话到哈工大”.

I also heard from somewhere that broadcasters and anchors are often from or trained in Harbin...... just word of mouth.

But they also still use some er-hua.... like 一瓶儿水 (i hated that one!) just not as much as in beijing.

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Guangxi) now pretty much speaks standard mandarin

Where? I live in Guangxi and rarely hear pure putonghua pronunciation. The only person I know who does have it is originally from Harbin!

Most students (and teachers) fail their putonghua exams.

Few Guangxi people speak putonghua as their first language. Cantonese is prevalent in the south and east while Zhuang is everywhere. These languages interfere with people's pronunciation of putonghua

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>>rarely hear pure putonghua pronunciation..

agree, don't expect too much purity in the South (which might be a good thing, too much "r" might be just too much). Yet, almost everybody, especially young generation will understand one speaking putonghua. I speak only standard mandarin and never had problems in Guilin, Liuzhou, Nanning, Beihai, Haikou, Sanya, Zhanjiang, Zhapo, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Guangzhou.

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People here in Yantai speak good putonghua. My gf is from Weihai and her putonghua is quite biaozhun. People in this area also speak with the 'erhua yin。’ But a lot of older people can't really speak putonghua at all.

I think that Shandonghua is very similar to putonghua, so it's easy for people here to speak fairly standard putonghua.

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Where in China do you hear local residents speaking with pronunciation most like the 'official' putonghua pronunciation?

Variously, in the northeast, where people are younger or more educated, and in more formal situations. Ideally you want to go to a Politburo meeting held at a Harbin nursery school. There's no one place where you can be guaranteed the purest Putonghua - you can end up with neighbours from rural Sichuan anywhere in China - but you can increase your chances.

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'... a Politburo meeting held at a Harbin nursery school' Brilliant! I know just what you mean - after living in 4 different provinces around the country and visiting several more. And sitting in all too many official meetings!

What I hoped for was feedback on what people actually hear around them on the streets when they're in a local vegetable market, for example.

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I'd go with the younger educated crowd found anywhere. I was in Harbin at the beginning of the month and all the cab drivers tried to teach me 东北话.

My roommate had an old friend from Shanghai call him and he handed the phone to me to speak English. His Chinese was so clear that we thought he was a foreigner.

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It's been said before, but I will repeat it...for purity of Mandarin pronunciation, it's hard to beat Harbin. As I understand it, the 儿化音 is considered standard for some words, so you definitely get 儿化 in Harbin but it's "standard" 儿化音 for the most part.

Every location has their own little pronunciation quirks, including Harbin, but they're relatively minor there. I lived there for a year, and the only mispronunciation I recall hearing regularly was the O sound in "po" being mispronounced as something more like the E in "le". But it's a very minor thing. If you're talking about the language people speak on the streets, I doubt you'll find anywhere more "standard" than Harbin (although honestly Beijing is close--I've been here half a year now and don't find it to be as 儿y as everyone says.)

You will get some people speaking 东北话 in Harbin, of course, but that's a dialect rather than an accent. And it isn't super common, it would be mostly rural people or city folk who are intentionally trying to keep you from understanding. Really, aside from the basic 啥 and 咋 stuff, you won't have to deal with much 东北话

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Several people on this forum have said they think Harbin comes closest to the 'educated standard', i.e. putonghua. What about the neighbouring province, Jilin? Does anyone have experience from that part of the north-east? I remember a Chinese friend once commenting to me about the pronunciation of people from Jilin - a positive comment. Essentially, I'm thinking about people who have not had a university education, not had to sit in putonghua classes and take putonghua exams above middle school level, maybe.

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In addition to Harbin and other cities in Dongbei, I've also argued that you tend to hear fairly standard Putonghua in cities that have newly developed, or cities in which many migrants have recently moved to.

For example, if you spend a day in Shenzhen and interact with ten people, five might have near perfect Putonghua, and five might carry various regional flavors in with their Putonghua, although all would generally be easy to understand. Likewise, if you go to, say, Urumqi or Lhasa, you tend to find a similar phenomenon, in my experience.

Why is this? I think it's not dissimilar to places in the US that have seen large-scale migration, like Colorado or Arizona -- just about everybody there has only been there for a generation or two. Many people might have parents who grew up in New York, Ohio, Minnesota, the South, Mexico, or other places, and by default, people end up speaking with a fairly "accentless" (or standard) way. My guess would be that in one generation, places like Shenzhen (or the Han-ified places out West) will be even more standard, and could rival places like Harbin as the most standard Putonghua cities in China.

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