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Flickserve

Chinese learners are forced into a standard box

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ChTTay

@Flickserve Live and learn together 🥰

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PerpetualChange
On 9/22/2019 at 6:58 PM, Flickserve said:

There are mainland teachers offering Cantonese on italki. Also seen Hakka offered. 

Wanted to respond to this as I missed it earlier...

 

At the fear of stepping on the toes of any true linguist here, I think many would consider Cantonese and Hakka probably different languages. I say these because unlike many other dialects, these languages are totally unintelligible from standard Putonghua. Studying one or the other could definitely serve to enrich your understanding of certain dialects of Putonghua, or could be fun in its own right. Plenty of people study Cantonese as opposed to Putonghua, not really sure about Hakka though. Studying these would definitely be a totally parallel path from studying Putonghua, anyway, to me it sounded like in the OP the goal was just to inflect one's own Putonghua with certain regionalisms that would set one aside from the standard learner.

 

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Flickserve
2 hours ago, PerpetualChange said:

At the fear of stepping on the toes of any true linguist here, I think many would consider Cantonese and Hakka probably different languages. I say these because unlike many other dialects, these languages are totally unintelligible from standard Putonghua. Studying one or the other could definitely serve to enrich your understanding of certain dialects of Putonghua, or could be fun in its own right. Plenty of people study Cantonese as opposed to Putonghua, not really sure about Hakka though. Studying these would definitely be a totally parallel path from studying Putonghua, anyway, to me it sounded like in the OP the goal was just to inflect one's own Putonghua with certain regionalisms that would set one aside from the standard learner.

 

 

It was another poster saying learning Cantonese or other dialects as being arrogant - dang, I have had conversations with a number of mainland Chinese people who want to learn Cantonese. Nice to know I am not the only arrogant person out there.

 

As the OP, yes I do want to learn a certain twang - it's not that I ask a southern Mandarin speaker to teach northern Mandarin. I ask northern Chinese a pronunciation feature and they set off on standard pronunciation which isn't helpful. Here's a video of what I am talking about. I want to be able to understand it in other situations which won't happen if people just repeat standard mandarin back to you.

 

""Pronunciation features that might throw you off if you are used to typical textbook mandarin

 

https://youtu.be/UIXjOqo6beY

 

 

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Lu

I've removed all posts in which people were calling each other names, and a few more that were caught in the crossfire. Please do continue the interesting discussion and stop calling each other names. Next person to fly off the handle gets a cool-down ban.

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PerpetualChange
8 hours ago, Flickserve said:

As the OP, yes I do want to learn a certain twang - it's not that I ask a southern Mandarin speaker to teach northern Mandarin. I ask northern Chinese a pronunciation feature and they set off on standard pronunciation which isn't helpful. Here's a video of what I am talking about. I want to be able to understand it in other situations which won't happen if people just repeat standard mandarin back to you.

 

""Pronunciation features that might throw you off if you are used to typical textbook mandarin

 

https://youtu.be/UIXjOqo6beY

 

I would recommend a few things...

 

1.) Keep studying with your teacher who is teaching you good Mandarin

2.) Find a language partner/partners who isn't all that concerned with being "standard" and preferably someone with this accent your having trouble with - to supplement what you're doing with your teacher

3.) Try TV/Radio that isn't overdubbed in Putonghua - it's tough but there are more and more shows I've seen which thankfully don't overdub.

 

I've been at it for many years, and I've never studied anything but "standard" Mandarin, and I had no problem understanding almost all of what was said in that video. Leading me to believe that perhaps the problem is too great of an emphasis on textbooks, and not enough getting out there and exposing yourself to daily usage.

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Weyland
On 9/19/2019 at 7:33 AM, Flickserve said:

Yes. It's a real problem for learners if all the learning materials are standard mandarin and then suddenly in the real world, not many people are speaking like that.


I think it all comes back to ye olde phrase "Don't run when you're still trying figuring out how to walk.". Quite a few language learners are living in a bubble surrounded by natives that have dumbed down their language to make sure you understand their intent. If we're talking about actual accents of Mandarin, then understanding standard Mandarin should be enough to not get thrown off whenever someone is speaking with an accent. The syntax of and structure of the language doesn't change (much) between accents. Instead of seeing the situation as "they're speaking an accent, that's why I don't understand them" foreigners should be humbled whenever they have trouble understanding non-standard Chinese as it is telling of how undeveloped their listening skills are. 

Accents can differ between villages that are less than an hour drive apart. These regional differences are often found in the regions of the Southern Hills, Yun-Gui Plateau, Sichuan, Hexi corridor and Manchuria (let's not even talk about communities on the Tibetan Plateau). 

Chinese language learners would be better served by learning the "mistakes" in pronunciation those with an accent often make. Just to name a few:

  • f - h 
  • n - l 
  • j - q - x / h - q - x / j - g - x - s / z - j 
  • z - c - s / zh - ch - sh - r / zh - ch - sh / s - sh / z - zh - c - ch
  • g ~ k ~ h
  • a - ai / ao - iao / ua - an - uan / ang - uang / ia - ian - iang 
  • u - ü / i - o / ei - ou / iu - üe ~ ie 
  • an - ang / en - eng / in - ing / ün - ong / ian - iang / uan - uang / üan - iong / uen - ueng

The first response to being unable to understand someone because they don't pronounce "sh" should be; my Chinese isn't good enough. instead of: They're speaking in an accent, that's why I don't understand them. As to me that just feels like someone offloading their own shortcoming onto someone else. 

 

On 9/20/2019 at 4:22 AM, Dawei3 said:

 

One of the things that made me laugh in China was that natives from Shengyang were thought by others to pronounce their own city "wrong" because they said Sengyang (no sh-).  This a lot different than people trying to evoke a New Yorker saying their city.  It's a very different mental process.  


Shenyang* not Shengyang. Plus, the city has had many names: Shengjing, Mukden, and Fengtian. The Chinese government tries to counteract regionalism. Making sure that everyone speak the same language shouldn't come as much of a shocker.

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realmayo

You've got to convince the teacher that you are capable enough to play with the kind of fire that burns millions of Chinese native speakers every day. You teacher knows that, if you start inserting local dialect accidentally into regular speech, most Chinese people will think you're a bit dumb. I personally believe you've got to prove yourself a relatively adept code-switcher to the teacher first.

 

And I've previously made headway by saying "I'm worried I'll pick up dialect I hear in the streets without realising that it's dialect, therefore, please first teach me the perfect putonghua of this sentence and then, once I can say it really well, teach me how the locals say it."

 

Also maybe there can be a bit of a minefield over your teacher's status. One example could be that you are perhaps asking him the local dialect of a city, but he grew up outside the city, and so you're either asking him to confess that he's not a local, or you're asking him to pretend he's local (and therefore higher status than he really is). Both could be a bit embarassing.

 

Or: the teacher might not be 100% confident in his own putonghua, so if anyone else found out he was teaching you non-standard Chinese, he might be criticised.

 

Finally (apologies for long-windedness): I think that the tradition of teaching in China, which may still persist, I don't know, is that a teacher is reponsible for your development, and not just a gun-for-hire to impart certain skills you request, which might make a reluctance to teach certain areas seem more stubborn or unreasonable to the student than it does to the teacher.

 

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Flickserve
11 hours ago, Weyland said:

If we're talking about actual accents of Mandarin, then understanding standard Mandarin should be enough to not get thrown off whenever someone is speaking with an accent

 

That's the theory. In practice, some people do have difficulty.

 

https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/58589-comprehending-northern-versus-southern-accented-mandarin/?tab=comments#comment-455336

 

Or here in this blog discussion

 

"I was watching a show with a singer from HK the other day, and the Mandarin was even harder to understand than usual because of the heavy Cantonese accent!" (By another poster). The poster was watching GEM who I personally think doesn't have a strong Cantonese accent and whose parents came from the mainland - Shanghai I think.

 

https://www.chinese-forums.com/blogs/entry/804-year-1-semester-1-review/?tab=comments#comment-2528

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Weyland
1 hour ago, Flickserve said:

That's the theory. In practice, some people do have difficulty.

 

The person you use as "the practical example" doesn't have a good grasp on Chinese. He's in his second year of his Chinese language course, still has (had) trouble when reading middle-school novels. And just about to start his 3rd year. This person is nowhere near fluent enough to pose as a practical example. 

He literally said so: 
 

Quote

I have a book called 'Short-Term Spoken Chinese', which is the elementary level


The whole discussion took place at a time, two years ago, when said person was still going through elementary speaking and listening coursework.

Such a person has nowhere near the comprehension level that you'd expect a fluent speaker of Chinese to have.

I'd prefer a more concrete example of someone who has passed the HSK and who still unable to make head or tail of accents on, for example, TV. 

 

Plus, I could literally recommend you Chinese study materials for learning specific regional accents. But, again, those aren't for students of Chinese as a second language. They're meant for the domestic market. They're meant for students that have already passed a university degree and are studying said accent for a acting role or to work as a cultural ambassador through the government. Those materials aren't meant for us. Heck, they don't even have an audio tape to tell you how to pronounce it; it's all done through phonetics. 

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Bibu

have accent or tend to standard, ia it a big deal? let it be.

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Weyland
3 minutes ago, Bibu said:

have accent or tend to standard, ia it a big deal? let it be.


Please rephrase that, I don't quite get what you mean with "tend to standard".

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suMMit

using a skill that helps me when i dont understand every single word in a.chinese sentence...im going to say bibu means "if you tend to speak with a standard or non standard accent, is it really that big of a deal? 算了"

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suMMit

What should I do then? I aim to learn standard pronunciation.  I first began my study with a beijinger.  This is also the accent I personally like. BUT, I LIVE in Guangzhou. Most people here, even those not native to gz, speak very southern chinese.  So do I try to speak like the people i encounter on the street everyday? or like the textbook and my wife(from Heilongjiang), who speak standard northern mandarin? A dilemma. 

 

I remember reading once, Chris Parker saying(something to the effect of) he was living in Taiwan but strictly working on speaking with a Beijing accent, and it was a constant fight, that he shouldve just spoken with the accent of the people around him. *I dont want to misquote him, i will see if i can find a link to that later.


I find when i say “在这儿就可以了” the reaction is subtly not as good as if is say "这里" or 公园儿 vs. 公园, but thats how my mother in law says it, and i like to immitate her, thats how i hear it in the drama on TV. Furthermore, its the sound i enjoy. Its a little irritating. 

 

For me, ive decided just to imitate the textbook for the most part , go for standard mandarin for my speech,  try to be good at hearing all of it, enjoy noting tge differences and not get too hung up about it. 

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typo
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Bibu

@Weyland @suMMit 

 

yes, dialects is not prob, the prob is what dialect you want to learn, then find the resourse, teacher needed.

 

it very funny to complain a mandarin teacher that he/she correct your non-mandarin accent.

 

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js6426
21 hours ago, Flickserve said:
On 9/25/2019 at 10:47 PM, Weyland said:

If we're talking about actual accents of Mandarin, then understanding standard Mandarin should be enough to not get thrown off whenever someone is speaking with an accent

 

That's the theory. In practice, some people do have difficulty.

 

https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/58589-comprehending-northern-versus-southern-accented-mandarin/?tab=comments#comment-455336

 

Or here in this blog discussion

 

"I was watching a show with a singer from HK the other day, and the Mandarin was even harder to understand than usual because of the heavy Cantonese accent!" (By another poster). The poster was watching GEM who I personally think doesn't have a strong Cantonese accent and whose parents came from the mainland - Shanghai I think.

 

Great point.  At that point my understanding of standard Mandarin was nothing like good enough to not be thrown off by a different accent, nor to distinguish where an accent was from.  Having heard GEM speak Cantonese my immediate, and rather embarrassing assumption was that she was from Hong Kong!  2 years on and my understanding is still not good enough to distinguish where exactly an accent is from, although I am in general able to understand much more southern accented Chinese now than I was. 

 

If I think about England, there are times when a really thick accent can be difficult to understand, even as a native speaker.  If this is the case for our tiny little country, surely it must be even more applicable to China.  One of my teachers told us a story about him getting ripped off down South, as he failed to make the distinction between 十 and 四.  I'm sure that as one improves their understanding of standard Mandarin, it will of course become easier to understand accented Chinese, but if there are still occasional struggles for natives, then I'm not going to lose a ton of sleep over it at this point in my language learning journey.

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Wurstmann

If you want to speak with a certain accent you should

1. listen a lot to speakers of that accent.

2. Choose one of those speakers (one who has tons of videos available) and shadow them.

3. Profit.

 

btw, I think some people in this thread are confusing dialect and accent.

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道艺黄帝

Why is everyone so quick to use Boston as the example of accentened American English?! 

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道艺黄帝

No access 😭

 

Sparknotes?

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