Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

  • Why you should look around

    Since 2003, Chinese-forums.com has been helping people learn Chinese faster and get to China sooner. Our members can recommend beginner textbooks, help you out with obscure classical vocabulary, and tell you where to get the best street food in Xi'an. And we're friendly about it too. 

    Have a look at what's going on, or search for something specific. We hope you'll join us. 
Quest

an end to dialects?

Recommended Posts

Quest

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/world/20041204-0958-polyglotnation.html

.....including the current one featuring TV presenter Wang Xiaoya on billboards exhorting Shanghainese to "speak Mandarin ... be a modern person." .........

all educated people in china can speak fluent mandarin now, what more do they want? to get everyone to speak the beijing accent? as if beijing's the only modern urban center in China, and everyone else is a backward country hick....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

yonglan

"If you want to find a good job and be a success in Shanghai, you have to speak Shanghainese. Even if you do, they can pick you out by your accent and discriminate against you," said Steven Li, an accounting student flying home to the western city of Chongqing.

What do you make of that aspect of it? Do you think that's why Beijing is acting the way they are? If not, do you have any theories as to why they want to go beyond everyone knowing Mandarin to everyone knowing only Mandarin (if that's what they're up to)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Claw

The government has always been very suspicious of group identities ever since Falun Gong took them by surprise. I'm guessing large groups of people with their own dialect and having a unique identity makes them uneasy. The departures of Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji (both Shanghainese) may also have something to do with this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quest
If you want to find a good job and be a success in Shanghai, you have to speak Shanghainese. Even if you do, they can pick you out by your accent and discriminate against you

yonglan, that has nothing to do with dialects. It is discrimination against the poor. They just assume anyone that doesn't speak perfect shanghaiese is a country migrant. I am sure foreigners or japanese would not be discriminated based on their accent.

It is never possible to create a unified accent in China, even if everyone switched to mandarin, that kind of discrimination will still exist, until everyone is economically equal, which is never going to happen either.

The differences between mandarin and the major dialect groups are just too great for lingual unification. Such efforts will only come back to hurt the country when China finally attains full democracy.

What they really need to do is to teach people about lingual equality, so no one would discriminate against another person based on his/her accent. All this mandarin=modern, dialect/accent=poor+backwards crap should go into the dustbin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ala
"If you want to find a good job and be a success in Shanghai, you have to speak Shanghainese. Even if you do, they can pick you out by your accent and discriminate against you," said Steven Li, an accounting student flying home to the western city of Chongqing.

I'm not sure if this is really true. There are some jobs that require you to be fluent in Shanghainese before you apply, but that is because the jobs often are public service in nature and deal with the local population extensively (such as journalism, medicine, police, phone operators, etc). The average Shanghainese over 50 years of age have trouble speaking Mandarin well, it is absolutely critical that the service sector can speak in Shanghainese when needed. The corporate office operates all in Mandarin and English. Maybe on cigarette breaks outside, Shanghainese is spoken. There are millions of non-Shanghainese speaking 新上海人 who have been successful.

I don't understand this using Shanghai as a scapegoat. Shanghai's Mandarin proficiency is already very high (during the ROC days, it was Shanghai that popularized Mandarin); there are many many areas in China where the situation is far worse, including northern China and Sichuan Chongqing. I guess people tend to react when you have "Shanghai" and "discrimination" in the same sentence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
naus888
From the article:

"As an artist, I think dialect should be preserved as a part of local culture," says Zhang Dingguo, deputy director of the Shanghai People's Comedy Troupe which does Tom and Jerry in Shanghainese.

"Schools don't allow Shanghainese to be spoken, and now TV doesn't either. It looks like Shanghai comedy will be dying out," he adds.

"You've got Shanghainese kids who can't even speak Shanghainese," he complains.

I remember we used to get smacked in school because we muttered Shanghainese in class. For most people they just accepted Mandarin, but there were always some who became very hostile to the entire Mandarin promotion (some of these people refused to speak any Mandarin when outside of class). Some teachers (usually substitutes) would occasionally break the rules and teach us a class in Shanghainese (typically about Shanghai's history or on Chinese literature).

Outsiders say it smacks of bigotry. "If you want to find a good job and be a success in Shanghai, you have to speak Shanghainese. Even if you do, they can pick you out by your accent and discriminate against you," said Steven Li, an accounting student flying home to the western city of Chongqing.

For most people it's not about bigotry, but an acute sense of self-preservation. And the "discrimination" is mostly practical as ala above pointed out. My uncle speaks very little Mandarin, if he had just been mugged, I would want the police to be able to communicate with him in his own city. Regarding social networks, that's a moot point, you have to build it yourself. I know two accountants from Zhejiang who spoke *really* accented Shanghainese, they didn't have any trouble finding good jobs in the city. Two can play this anecdotal game; I'll wait until I see a solid, controlled study done on the job acceptance rates for locals (who also pay higher taxes, btw) and outsiders.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ala
that has nothing to do with dialects. It is discrimination against the poor. They just assume anyone that doesn't speak perfect shanghaiese is a country migrant. I am sure foreigners or japanese would not be discriminated based on their accent.

There are plenty of poor people in Shanghai who speak Shanghainese. It's much more complicated than rich versus poor. And actually, the discrimination on accent is very mild, mostly benign joking. Nearly all Shanghainese speakers carry some accent anyway. Discrimination runs most heavily against people from the north: 江北 (Upper Yangtse) and 安徽 (Anhui), and is hardly limited to just Shanghai. A lot of people from nearby 苏南 (Suzhou, Wuxi, Changshu, Jiangyin) even make fun of the Shanghainese because Shanghai residents today have a significant proportion of 江北 descendents. The cultural gap between 江北 (upper Yangtse) and 江南 (lower Yangtse) has been large for over a thousand years, and is still large today. Shanghai sits on the boundary of this division (on the lower Yangtse side and is culturally similar to Suzhou). People from the upper Yangtse also discriminate against lower Yangtse peoples, but it has less biting effect as the lower Yangtse is far more developed. China's north/south divide is epitomized by this region, derogatory terms such as 南蛮子 ("southern barbarian")、鸟语 ("bird language") were created originally to refer to the lower Yangtse area.

Hence this is all culturally and historically influenced, and language is but a small factor. To blame it all on language/dialect and to make Shanghai the primary scapegoat is really not targeting the problem; it is political opportunism.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cyberian

1. So a non-Shanghainese looking for job in Shanghai would have a harder time than a native?

2. In general, as in on the streets and casual conversations, do people in Shanghai speak Shanghainese or Mandarin?

3. Lets say I am in a subway in Shanghai, and there are 10 pairs sitting together and chatting. Out of those 10, how many speaks to Shanghainese to each other?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
pazu

Cyberian, I don't know, but most of the time when I was in Shanghai, people talked to me in Shanghainese, then I just smiled without saying anything, immediately they talked to me in Mandarin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cyberian

I was reading the article from the URL by the OP and came across this quote:

In Guangzhou (that's Mandarin for the great southern city of Canton).

I am a Cantonese native, but was raised abroad. I always called the capital 'Guangzhou/Kwangchou' and have always took 'Canton' as a sketchy translation from the British who mistaken the province name for the capital. No?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
gato
Regarding social networks, that's a moot point, you have to build it yourself. I know two accountants from Zhejiang who spoke *really* accented Shanghainese, they didn't have any trouble finding good jobs in the city. Two can play this anecdotal game; I'll wait until I see a solid, controlled study done on the job acceptance rates for locals (who also pay higher taxes, btw) and outsiders.

It's not about accents, but social cohesion and language discrimination. The concern is that people who don't speak Shanghainese can't enter these local social networks because of language. Many non-natives have learned Shanghainese (like your Zhejiang friends). But since it's one country, the government obviously wants to discourage discrimination based on language.

Such discrimination against non-Shanghai speakers exist from what I hear.

What does paying higher taxes have to do with language discrimination? A person in Shanghai would only pay higher taxes if he had a higher income.

From my experience, Shanghainese seem to like to say that non-Shanghainese are jealous as much as the rest of the country likes to complain about Shanghainese's haughtiness. Many Shanghainese are descendants of migrants to Shanghai, so it doesn't make any sense at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cyberian

Hangzhou is not far from Shanghai. Does the natives there speak Shanghainese? Also, does it have the issue discussed here?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yuchi
I am a Cantonese native, but was raised abroad. I always called the capital 'Guangzhou/Kwangchou' and have always took 'Canton' as a sketchy translation from the British who mistaken the province name for the capital. No?

Canton City is used for Guangzhou, and Canton province is used for Guangdong. Unless I'm mistaken, you should specify, otherwise using "Canton" would just refer to the province. :conf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Claw
Unless I'm mistaken, you should specify, otherwise using "Canton" would just refer to the province. :conf

No, in English, Canton refers to 廣州, the city. If you want to refer to the province, 廣東, you should say Canton province. Yes, it's messed up, but that is how it is... which is why we should stick with Guangzhou and Guangdong instead of Canton.

Canton is a really bad transliteration anyway because even the Cantonese pronunciation is not too far from the Mandarin pronunciation: Gwongzau and Gwongdung (using LSHK Jyutping romanization). I don't know how they managed to mangle Gwongdung into Canton.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wushijiao
1. So a non-Shanghainese looking for job in Shanghai would have a harder time than a native?

No, I don't think so. Shanghai is mainly concerned with money, and thus whether you can do the job required.

2. In general, as in on the streets and casual conversations, do people in Shanghai speak Shanghainese or Mandarin?

In informal situations people speak Shanghaiese.

3. Lets say I am in a subway in Shanghai, and there are 10 pairs sitting together and chatting. Out of those 10, how many speaks to Shanghainese to each other?

I think it would be about 7 pairs. I read that foreigners and non-Shanghaiese now make up about 25% of the city, but the number seems a bit low. Besides, there are always a lot of businessmen and tourists in the city, so I'd say about 7 pairs. Although, it seems that a lot of conversations are a mix of both Shanghaiese and Mandarin, with people selecting the word from either language that best fits what they are trying to say.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quest

I always think if you don't speak a Chinese dialect natively, it'd be better to just speak mandarin. If you live there, learn to listen but don't bother with the speaking part. Speaking a heavy accented dialect would only get you into a worse situation. At least that's the case in Guangzhou.

Canton is Guangzhou not Guangdong.

Canton is a really bad transliteration anyway

Does the word "canton" have another meaning in English? Back in the days, people calld 广州 省城。

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
pazu

I think one difference of native Cantonese speakers and learners is the Cantonese usually know when to use the language, while the learners thought it was all-time necessary to use the language at every single opportunity.

When I was travelling in China, I met some people who could speak Cantonese, well... far from perfect though, it's not a problem, so is my Mandarin, but while 10 people in the room can understand Mandarin only, the learner insisted to speak Cantonese all the time, and it could be annoying (to me).

I've met another guy who claimed to be a "laoxiang" of me in Vientiane of Laos, while I was chatting with a group of Sichuanese, this guy insisted to talk to me in Cantonese, at the same time isolated all other people there, I can understand half of his Cantonese (my mother tongue), but I just replied him all the time in Mandarin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yuchi
Does the word "canton" have another meaning in English? Back in the days, people calld 广州 省城。

Apparently:

can·ton ( P ) Pronunciation Key (kntn, -tn)

n.

-A small territorial division of a country, especially one of the states of Switzerland.

-A subdivision of an arrondissement in France.

-Heraldry. A small, square division of a shield, usually in the upper right corner.

-A usually rectangular division of a flag, occupying the upper corner next to the staff.

I can see why it's a bad word, definition one seems to be another definition for province..

Oops on my behalf, misread an article :oops:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ian_Lee

Other than Canton, there were a lot of weird English transliteration for other Chinese places:

Shenyang -- Mukden

Lushun -- Port Arthur

Yantai -- Chefoo

Xiamen -- Amoy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ala
Such discrimination against non-Shanghai speakers exist from what I hear.

They exist to various extents EVERYWHERE where there is language differences and barriers. But getting rid of the local language through media bans and propaganda is not the solution.

What does paying higher taxes have to do with language discrimination?

I don't think that was naus888's point. He is saying that many outsiders (most of whom do not speak Shanghainese) may mistakenly lump being denied, for example, admission to a Shanghai college with discrimination based on language; when the real reason is that they are not legal Shanghai residents and thereby do not pay Shanghai taxes. There are indeed quotas for local residents in many academic institutions and firms, but it has nothing to do with language. And thus language should not be made the scapegoat of this inequality. No need for knee-jerk reactions here.

A person in Shanghai would only pay higher taxes if he had a higher income.

No. Shanghai residents have much much higher tax rates regardless of actual income. This tax is usually paid by employers and deducted automatically from payroll. Most of the tax goes to the nation, but the tiny percentage that remain funds most of Shanghai's public infrastructure, institutions and firms. This is also the reason why "in-state" quotas are justified. You are trying to judge Shanghainese "discrimination" without accurate context. :nono

From my experience, Shanghainese seem to like to say that non-Shanghainese are jealous as much as the rest of the country likes to complain about Shanghainese's haughtiness. Many Shanghainese are descendants of migrants to Shanghai, so it doesn't make any sense at all.

Well, from my experience when Shanghainese speak of jealousy, it is usually a reaction to accusations of others; you don't call people jealous out of the blue. A lot of Shanghai-bashing also has to do with Chinese politics. And when is a city ever not made up of descendents from migrants? Besides, that once-migrant point is not relevant when most of the migrants today do not assimilate as migrants did during the last century in Shanghai.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...