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According to the Chinese dialect map pasted by ala, there is no dialect in Shandong and they all speak Mandarin there.

But my personal experience tells me that it seems Shandong people have their own dialect. When I was a kid, my next door neighbor was a Shandongese family whom all speak a language totally incomprehensible to me.

(After the Guangzhou-Hong Kong general strike in 1927, the British recruited a lof of people from Weihai in Shandong -- another British leased territory during that time -- to Hong Kong as police. But they are now completely immersed and no traces can be found.)

By that time, I already knew how Mandarin sounded like since Mandarin pop songs from Taiwan were very popular in Hong Kong during the '60s.

But I could tell my neighbors were not speaking Mandarin.

Do Shandong people have their own dialect? Or are they like Sichuanese who speak Mandarin with a very heavy accent?

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Shandong-hua is definitely a Mandarin dialect (in fact it's the same sub-dialect as Beijing Mandarin; but more of a "transition dialect" with Jianghuai Mandarin). It's very intelligible to standard Mandarin speakers if they speak slowly, much more so than Sichuan Mandarin. Are you sure that the family you heard wasn't speaking some Wu dialect instead? There are several "Wu islands" in northern Jiangsu and Shandong.

Here's a flash in Shandong-hua (with lyrics/words in the flash):


It's pretty much just an accented version of standard Mandarin.

There is also Jianghuai-hua 江淮话 (which is spoken in northern Jiangsu, and is pretty similar to Wu dialects but distinctively Mandarin as well; a kind of transition dialect.)

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I speak a little bit of improper 山东话 ---- 德州话, and it is just heavily accented Mandarin, but I don't know how the dialect in central 山东Shandong like 济南Ji'nan sounds.When I was visiting my cousin in 湖北Hubei, I rode on the train and I get off the train at every stop as much as I can, and I listen to the people talking. By the time I got to 河南Henan, I could only understand about 1/3 of what they were speaking, and by the time I got to 宜昌Yichang. I could at most understand 20% of what they speak if I concentrate very hard. But I think 宜昌话Yichang-hua is a Mandarin dialect? Also at the time, I didn't understand any 上海话Shanghai-hua. While I could understand 东北话Dongbei-hua (all the way from 大连 to 齐齐哈尔) perfectly well, except some catch phrases. When I go west, 西安话Xi'an-hua is about 70% intelligible, but the rural areas differs alot. From the limited dialects that I've heard, I feel that 北京话Beijing-hua is more similar to 河北话Hebei-hua 东北话Dongbei-hua and the least similar to 湖北话Hubei-hua 西安话Xi'an-hua. What do you think?

-Shìbó :mrgreen:

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I feel that 北京话Beijing-hua is more similar to 河北话Hebei-hua 东北话Dongbei-hua and the least similar to 湖北话Hubei-hua 西安话Xi'an-hua. What do you think?

You're right. Xi'an-hua is Northwestern Mandarin; Shandong/Beijing/Dongbei-hua are all Northeastern Mandarin. I have some trouble understanding the dialects in Shanxi and Shaanxi. Shanxi-hua has just recently being carved out of Mandarin, as a separate "Jin" 晋 dialect due to its having Rusheng still.

Hubei-hua should be mostly Jianghuai-hua 江淮话, so somewhat similar to Wu dialects but more understandable. The two southern varieties of Mandarin are Southwestern/Sichuan Mandarin and Jianghuai-hua.

The map below shows the Mandarin dialects as well (these Mandarin dialects are not typically recognized as separate Chinese dialects on the ranks of Wu, Cantonese, etc, as they are still very mostly intelligible and have very similar phonologies).


Jianghuai, Xinan (Southwestern/Sichuan), East (Northeast), West (Northwest) are all Mandarin dialects. Jianghuai is a Mandarin transition dialect between Northern Mandarin and Wu. Jin and Ping have recently separated from Mandarin and Cantonese, respectively.

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  • 3 months later...

I don't have much theoretical background in chinese dialects. However I have some hands-on experience with Shandong Dialect. I pride myself of speaking decent mandarin and understanding large portions of Shanghaihua but I do not understand a word of the rural dialect approx. 300 km south of Jinan. The difference to Mandarin is definitely bigger than the difference between Dutch and German. It may be more closely related to Mandarin than Mandarin to Shanghaihua, but there are worlds inbetween. For instance all i are turned to u and all r are turned to y big amounts of the vocabulary are very different..Guess that's the dialect you heard as a kid.:)

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