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Cake

Should I not learn in this city because of its local dialect?

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Cake

Wow! This is exactly what i was looking for.

abcdefg was certainly right in saying that this forum would provide a broad spectrum of valuable information!

 

I really needed the insight and information everyone that contributed phrased in just the way that it was, Thank you! I really feel that I now have the knowledge that is necessary to make the right choice! 

 

Also, I'll definitely listen to podcasts.

 

Hearing about all of your experiences gives me a look into how things are and how they would be that I could not have gotten from anywhere else

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Flickserve

Agree with realmayo about the non-standard vocabulary. It is to be expected there might be some differences with local slang but that is what you can asked your teacher. Frankly speaking, I think it makes learning a little more interesting to recognize variations.

In England it is the same.

London "wotcha "

Leeds " 'aiya,luv"

Both versions mean Hello in English!

(You can still use Hello in both cities )

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NotChinese

Though I agree with those who've said Chengdu is totally fine for learning Mandarin, I'd like to add a couple of anecdotes.

 

I was somewhere a bit further south (possibly Guizhou - still apparently classes as southwestern Mandarin though), and asked a very basic question of a staff member at a bus station (something like, "Where's the number 2 bus stand?") and was met with, "Oh you're speaking putonghua , help me he's speaking putonghua!"

 

Another time, I once flew Beijing to Chengdu and, upon arrival, asked a member of staff (at Chengdu international airport) for some help and was (politely) met with, "Oh sorry you're speaking Putonghua, I only know Sichuanese."

 

So there are two things to take from this.

 

1. Some people really can't follow standard Mandarin! At least not when they have the shock of it coming from a foreigner.

2. I was in Sichuan but still learned putonghua. 

 

I was doing proper classes though. Pretty sure if I'd self-taught without a teacher or peer group and practised on the streets it would have been a different situation entirely.

 

Oh and aside from those two little stories, I communicated absolutely fine with most Chinese people.

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Lu

Good to see your update, even better to hear that you are happy there!

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abcdefg
9 hours ago, Cake said:

Even speaking with a foreign accent most people still treat you with respect and don't look down upon you.

 

I've found that too, here in Kunming. 

 

9 hours ago, Cake said:

Also, the tones really don't matter much either, just say the two syllable version of the word rather than the one syllable version and 95% of the time it's okay.

 

Could you clarify this? Not sure what you mean about the syllables and tones. 

 

Glad that your time in Chengdu has been productive and fun! I enjoy going there because there is so much great food. And the people have always struck me as friendly. 

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NotChinese

@Cake Have you been living in a  bubble for 2 years?

 

I find it quite absurd that you think the Sichuan dialect is only for old, poor or uneducated folk or those "working in service positions". The highly educated software engineers I worked with for a year would all think quite differently. All of them aged between 20 and 30 years, all of them university educated, very well paid and highly skilled, and all of them speaking the thickest sichuan accent I've ever encountered. It was the most difficult Chinese language experience of my life. They literally couldn't speak putonghua if they tried. It was a godsend when the boss was in the office because he was from near Beijing and spoke crystal clear. The difference in accent and dialect was like night and day. 

 

My ex girlfriend is a surgeon and she speaks it too. Admittedly she used putonghua with me, but it doesn't change that she's very highly educated, not a service worker, but speaks sichuanese as standard with everyone else. 

 

Honestly I'm just amazed that you think it's the language of the proles. Sichuanhua is everywhere, everywhere

 

Also tones are incredibly important if you try to get beyond basic chit chat. A mate of mine, British guy, has the largest Chinese vocabulary of any foreigner I know, but he literally makes Chinese people wince when he talks because of how toneless he is. I can understand what he's saying because I'm a fellow tone-deaf foreigner, but the unfortunate majority of actual Chinese people have no idea what he's on about, precisely because he doesn't even remotely attempt to speak the language in the way it was meant to be spoken. 

 

I hate to be "that guy", but I'm going to have to almost entirely disagree with your whole post, sorry! 

 

The only thing I will agree with is that it's still quite possible to learn putonghua in sichuan, just as long as you do it in the safe environment of the classroom and university surroundings. I was at chuanda too. 

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murrayjames
1 hour ago, NotChinese said:

@Cake Have you been living in a  bubble for 2 years?

 

I find it quite absurd that you think the Sichuan dialect is only for old, poor or uneducated folk or those "working in service positions". The highly educated software engineers I worked with for a year would all think quite differently. All of them aged between 20 and 30 years, all of them university educated, very well paid and highly skilled, and all of them speaking the thickest sichuan accent I've ever encountered. It was the most difficult Chinese language experience of my life. They literally couldn't speak putonghua if they tried. It was a godsend when the boss was in the office because he was from near Beijing and spoke crystal clear. The difference in accent and dialect was like night and day. 

 

My experience is similar to Cake's.

 

My wife and her entire family is Sichuanese. I lived in Chengdu for over five years. For most of that time, I worked for the Sichuan Conservatory of Music, where most of my co-workers and all of my bosses were Sichuanese. I also spent a lot of time in rural Sichuan.

 

People from Sichuan speak 四川话 to each other. In general, they speak 普通话 to Chinese people from other parts of the country (外地人). They speak 普通话 and English to foreigners. This was overwhelmingly my experience of young, educated people from big cities like Chengdu and Chongqing.

 

Many older Sichuanese people (like my in-laws) speak Mandarin with a Sichuanese accent, eliding "sh" and "s" sounds, for example, so that shí kuaì sounds like sì kuai (slightly rising tone), or conflating "bei" and "bai", so that Beǐjīng sounds like Baǐjīng. Sichuanese people call this way of speaking 川普 (short for 四川普通话). People in Chengdu pronounce the character 街  as gái, which has confused many foreigners in taxicabs, present author included.

Older Sichuanese people, poor or uneducated Sichuanese people, and people from rural Sichuanese areas sometimes do not speak Mandarin at all. To most Sichuanese people this is not a big deal, but it can be rude or untactful to point this out. I have heard people from large cities making fun of the accents of people from the countryside.

Sichuanese people are proud of their language, in the same way they are proud of their food. Apparently Sichuanese was on its way to becoming the official language of the People's Republic of China, but narrowly lost the final vote to Putonghua. I must have heard this one hundred times. Some of the linguistic differences within Sichuan are significant. 成都话 and 重庆话 are noticeably different dialects, both in terms of vocabulary and pitch (重庆话 is gruffer and lower-pitched). People from Chengdu and Chongqing argue over whose language is better and whose women are more beautiful. Again, I must have heard these arguments one hundred times, and from every corner of Sichuanese society: male, female, young, old, rich, poor, etc. As you travel north or east within Sichuan, the 四川话 seems to get further and further removed from the Chengdu-Chongqing linguistic standard, until to my ears it becomes unintelligible, like another language altogether.

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