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


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On 7/19/2018 at 9:57 PM, murrayjames said:

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 missed when this was posted in 2016. 


It's interesting to read the story about Sichuanese because friends from Guangdong have said the same thing about Cantonese (that Cantonese was almost adopted, but it lost in a narrow vote).  SCMP relays this story: https://www.scmp.com/article/694592/cantonese-almost-became-official-language  However,  SCMP notes that historians question the authenticity of the story regarding the vote (and after reading many conflicting stories, I do too).  


On Quora, someone claimed that Wu (Shanghainese) & Mandarin were the top runners in the vote. I realize it's "just" Quora - not an official source - but it illustrates how different people tell the story of how their region's dialect almost became the national language.



Languagelog may be more credible on how Mandarin became the national language, but I haven't seen the original references, so I wonder.  It addition, the commenters question the plausibility of the story.   https://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=20317


You can find many other stories.  I've found that the stories provide specific details that aren't mentioned in other stories (i.e., if the languagelog story is true that the Shanghai representative was chased from the room and this was the deciding factor, why isn't mentioned in any of the other stories?  It's a pretty dramatic scene not mentioned by others). Also, even if he wasn't chased from the room, was the Wu speaking faction really large enough to have influenced the vote in their favor?      


On top of this, you can google the above and find that China decided that Mandarin should be the national language in 1911 or  in 1912 or in 1913 (i.e.,  there seems to be no agreement on the year of the vote).   (for 1911, see:  https://www.globalizationpartners.com/2013/09/18/mandarin-the-official-spoken-language-in-china-and-taiwan/#:~:text=All of the official spoken,Northern regime and especially Beijing. )


The fact that there are multiple conflicting stories and they can't even agree on the year of the decision suggest the decision wasn't documented at the time (and makes me wonder about the credibility of all of the stories).  A Chinese author had noted that history is taught in China as a way to mold & guide people's behavior today and that facts are changed to fit the modern teaching goal.  It may be that in Sichuan, Guangdong & Shanghai, a different story was created on how Mandarin was decided in order to suggest their dialect was on almost equal footing as Mandarin....  





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1. Yes, the Beijing dialect is the basis for the standardized language, and Northeastern Chinese (Dongbeihua) is very close to it, but so are many of the other dialects of northern China.


2. I don't know if people from the Northeast look down on people who don't speak Dongbeihua. But generally dialects have a lower status than Standard Chinese.


3. As for Sichuanese and Shanghainese, the opposite may be true. Sichuanese is a form of Southwestern Mandarin (kind of like Standard Mandarin with a lot of changes to the phonology (tones and pronunciation), vocabulary, and even grammar), while Shanghainese is a form of Wu Chinese that has low mutual intelligibility with Mandarin.

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