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an end to dialects?


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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.

I agree. Canton sounds weird and does not sound like the name that should be given to a Chinese city. Peking is a bad transliteration for Beijing. Also Hankow.

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I always thought Peking came from the Cantonese pronunciation of 北京: bak-ging... and since the b is unvoiced, it sometimes sounds like a p to English speakers' ears.

Peking (and Nanking) are from the Imperial Postal system of Romanization. It is actually based on Mandarin. The Postal system took into account also dialect convertability, as most southern dialects pronounced 京 (capital) as [king] or [kung] or [kia~].

The French pronunciation of pé is very similar to Mandarin bei, because Mandarin Pinyin's "b" is voiceless and in IPA is transcribed as "p." Mandarin Pinyin's "j" is just the palatalization of k. Likewise "q" is the palatalization of kh; and "x" is the palatalization of h. So the Postal system used historical pronunciations for the palatals, and also where foreign terms had been established, it used those as well (such as Amoy and Canton).

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  • 3 weeks later...
Peking is a bad transliteration for Beijing. Also Hankow.

No, you just need to know what system is being used and how that system works. Wade-Giles, Yale, Pinyin, MPS2, Tongyong, and Gwoyeu Romatzyh are all equally good at representing ALL Mandarin sounds, it's just a matter of knowing which system is being used and knowing the rules of the particular system in question.

The other two big problems are that a) one doesn't always know what system is being used, and B) publishers and sign makers don't always the use the sytems correctly, consistently, or even necessarily confine themselves to one system. For example, the apostrophe in WG is often left out which is a big problem.

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Thanks for the info Yonglan. But I still don't like the sound of "Peking".

That's just because we look at it with English pronunciation in mind. The capital of Henan in Hanyu Pinyin is Zhengzhou. You should have heard my mother and brother pronounce it before I 'coached' them! An English speaker with no knowledge of Hanyu Pinyin won't even come within the same galaxy, pronunciation-wise. They don't know the rules.

Just curious, what made you bolt across the Taiwan Strait?

Well, I had actually been in the US for almost two years before coming to China. I just figured that since Taiwan is a little island with 23 million people and China is a big place with 1.3 billion people, then whatever else I might think or feel I ought to stop over for a while. Happy I did. It's quite the adventure.

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Are there any other examples of cities inChina becoming Mandarain speaking over the past decade?

Why are you just asking for examples from the past decade? This is a process that has been in motion for at least the past fifty years. Look at Taipei. In 1949, virtually no native Taipei people spoke Mandarin. Now it is rare to hear any Minnanhua spoken there.

I think it is safe to say that any of the first SEZs that weren't already cities when they were designated as SEZs are now Mandarin speaking places. Before it developed, Shenzhen was just a grease smudge lying between HK and Guangzhou. Dongguan is pretty much the same way. In contrast, already developed cities that are on or near the coast and have enjoyed strong economic growth in the past 25 years still retain their own languages. You are likely to hear plenty of Putonghua in Xiamen and Guangzhou and you can certainly get by with only Putonghua, but these cities are still holding onto their native languages. There are plenty of outsiders there, but locals are still great in number.

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Was it? I don't know, but apparently everyone speaks Mandarin there now. Also when I was in Xiamen last year, in the main shopping area in town I didn't meet a single shop assistant who spoke Minnanhua. They all seemed to be from Jingdezhen and places like that. Xiamen had more of a population than Shenzhen in 1980 before the reforms and so probably has not lost its minnanhua wholesale, but I would bet the process has begun now.

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Does anybody know the airport code for the major airports in Mainland China?

Beijing -- PEK

Shanghai Pudong -- PVG

Guangzhou -- CAN

So if you don't know the old transliteration like Peking and Canton, I am afraid you may get on the wrong flight!

(But how come Pudong airport is called PVG?)

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Here you go...

AKU Aksu Airport

AAT Altay Airport

AKA Ankang Airport

AQG Anqing

AYN Anyang Airport

BSD Baoshan Airport

BAV Baotou Airport

BHY Beihai Airport

PEK Beijing

NAY Beijing Nanyuan Airport

CGQ Changchun Airport

CGD Changde Airport

CNI Changhai Airport

CSX Changsha Airport

CIH Changzhi Airport

CZX Changzhou Airport

CTU Chengdu Airport

CIF Chifeng Airport

CKG Chongqing Airport

DLC Dalian Airport

DDG Dandong Airport

DAT Datong Airport

DAX Daxian Airport

DYG Dayong Airport

DZU Dazu Airport

DSN Dongsheng Airport

DNH Dunhuang Airport

ENH Enshi

FUG Fuyang Airport

FYN Fuyun Airport

FOC Fuzhou Airport

KOW Ganzhou Airport

GOQ Golmud Airport

GHN Guanghan Airport

LHK Guanghua Airport

CAN Baiyun Airport

KWL Guilin Airport

KWE Guiyang Airport

HAK Haikou Airport

HLD Hailar Airport

HMI Hami Airport

HGH Hangzhou Airport

HZG Hanzhong Airport

HRB Harbin Airport

HFE Hefei Airport

HEK Heihe Airport

HNY Hengyang Airport

HET Hohhot Airport

HSM Zhoushan Airport

HTN Hotan Airport

HHA Huanghua

HYN Huangyan Airport

JMU Jiamusi Airport

JGN Jiayuguan

JIL Jilin Airport

TNA Jinan Airport

JDZ Jingdezhen Airport

JHG Gasa Airport

JJN Jinjiang Airport

CHW Jiuquan Airport

KRY Karamay Airport

KHG Kashi Airport

KRL Korla Airport

KMG Kunming Airport

KCA Kuqa Airport

LHW Lanzhou Airport

LZD Lanzhoudong Airport

ZGC Lanzhou Zhongchuan

LXA Lhasa Airport

LIA Liangping Airport

LYG Liangyungang Airport

LZH Liuzhou

LYA Luoyang Airport

LUZ Lushan Airport

LUM Mangshi Airport

LZO Luzhou Airport

MXZ Meixian Airport

MDG Mudanjiang Airport

KHN Nanchang Airport

NAO Nanchong Airport

NKG Nanjing Airport

NNG Nanning Airport

NNY Nanyang Airport

NGB Ningbo Airport

IQM Qiemo Airport

TAO Qingdao Airport

IQN Qingyang Airport

SHP Qinhuangdao

NDG Qiqihar Airport

SYX Sanya Airport

SHA Shanghai

SHF Shanhaiguan

SXJ Shanshan

SWA Shantou/swatow Airport

SZO Shanzhou

HSC Shaoguan

SHS Shashi Airport

SHE Shenyang Airport

SZX Shenzhen

SJW Daguocun Airport

SYM Simao Airport

HLH Ulanhot Airport

URC Urumumqi Airport

WXN Wanxian

WNZ Wenzhou

WUH Wuhan Airport

WUZ Wuzhou Changzhoud

XIY Xi An Xianyang

SIA Xiguan Airport

XMN Xiamen Airport

XFN Xiangfan

XIC Xichang Airport

XIL Xilinhot Airport

XEN Xingcheng

XIN Xingning Airport

XNN Xining Airport

XUZ Xuzhou

ENY Yanan Airport

YNJ Yanji Airport

YNT Laishan Airport

YBP Yibin

YIH Yichang Airport

YLN Yilan

INC Yinchuan Airport

YIN Yinning Airport

YIW Yiwu

YUA Yuanmou

UYN Yulin

ZHA Zhanjiang Airport

ZAT Zhaotong

CGO Zhengzhou Airport

ZUH Zhuhai

ZYI Zunyi

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  • 1 year later...

I have lived in Chongqing for over 2 years and the putonghua spoken in Shanghai is much clearer than the one spoken by Chongqing locals. Actually, Chongqing locals don't even try very hard to speak putonghua. The local dialect is close to putonghua so the locals do not try to adjust. They just expect everyone to adjust to the way they talk. So why can't Shanghai ren do the same? The Shanghai people should be able to speak as they please, as long as they speak putonghua to others who need it (like me)! I just wish Chongqing ren and Sichaun ren would do the same.

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  • 4 weeks later...
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?

Canton is a vague early transliteration of Guangdong, not Guangzhou.

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The death of the dialects would be a real shame indeed. They carry a huge resource of words and expressions absent from Putonghua (since those words are alien to the Northern dialect). Also, the Southern dialects, being more conservative, have been much more faithful in retaining a lot of beginnings and endings - hence, they tend to rhyme better in the Tang poems.

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'Canton' as a sketchy translation from the British who mistaken the province name for the capital. No?

Canton is a vague early transliteration of Guangdong, not Guangzhou.

It might be a vague transliteration of Guangdong, but Canton means Guangzhou...

These dialogues come up quite often:

American born friend --

me: where's your family from?

friend: Canton

me: really? Guangzhou?

friend: where's guangzhou?

me: Canton, the capital city of Guangdong

friend: no, not from a city, from a village I think in Taishan

Chinese born friend --

me: where's your family from?

friend: Canton

me: oh me too, Guangzhou right?

friend: no not Guangzhou, Taishan



–noun 1. Also called Kwangchow, Guangzhou, Kuangchou. Older Spelling. a seaport in and the capital of Guangdong province, in SE China, on the Zhu Jiang. 3,000,000.

merriam webster

Main Entry: Can·ton

Pronunciation: 'kan-t&n

Function: geographical name

1 city NE Ohio SSE of Akron population 80,806

2 -- see GUANGZHOU

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To Ian_lee,

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

"Shenyang -- Mukden"

Mukden: This name is not weird, it's from an ancient language called Manchurian -- native language of the Ching/Qing dynasty emperors. Oddly, the Manchurian name is remembered by Westerners, more so than the Chinese name of Shen-yang

"Lushun -- Port Arthur"

Port Arthur: This name evidently was given by The British to the Chinese city of Lu-shun: possibly because most of them can't pronounce the Chinese name right?

"Yantai -- Chefoo"

Chefoo: A misnomer by the West: Zhi-fu & Che-foo are the same name, but only refers to the Zhi-fu islands, but the West referred to it as the whole of Yan-tai.

"Xiamen -- Amoy"

Xia-men: A city in South Fu-jian/Fu-kien province. A-moy is the regional Fu-jianese/

Fu-kienese (maybe Fu-chow/Fu-zhou) dialect of saying the city's name.)

Note on my notes: I chose to syllabify the Chinese city names accordingly so as not to confuse anyone: Amoy is pronounced "A-moy", not "Am-oy", Xiamen is "Xia-men" with 2 syllables, not "Xi-am-en" with 3 syllables.

I do not speak Fujianese, but I am of Fujianese descent (father's side of family). I speak Cantonese (mother's side of family).


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I agree with you Mark Yong. Most of the dialects other than Mandarin, such as Hakka, Cantonese, Fujianese/Fukienese carry sounds from ancient, old, and middle Chinese, whilst Mandarin only carry a modern Chinese pronunciation[modern = post 1911: after the fall of Ching dynasty to the present day]. I do agree that most of the poems would sound better in dialects other than Mandarin (more fluid) [i recite the poems in Cantonese and most words do rhyme better than Mandarin: e.g.: "300 Tang poems"] whilst Mandarin is more stiff.


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