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ameliasj

Shanghainese vs Cantonese

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ameliasj

Shanghainese as I am, I am always seeking for threads on Shanghainese.

While, it seems that most threads here are about Cantonese.

I wonder why Cantonese so popular?

Is that means there're more foreingers in Canton than in Shanghai?

And is that because Cantonese is easier than Shanghainese?

Or is that has something to do with Cantonese song?

BTW, my mom is Cantonese, but I can only catch up a little when she speaks to my grandma. Actually she never speaks Cantonese to me. It seems that Shanghainese is more native to her.:mrgreen:

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geraldc

Cantonese is used by a large number of overseas Chinese and Hong Kong. It also has it's own entertainment industry, films, televsion, songs etc.

You generally only get Chinese entertainment in Mandarin or Cantonese, I don't think I've ever seen a Shanghainese movie.

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L-F-J

I've only seen one movie with Shanghainese, and that was just a short part of it. Even being in Shanghai, the movie was in Mandarin.

Besides all the advertisement for Mandarin and Cantonese (songs, tv shows, movies, etc.) Cantonese is the second most widely spoken of the Chinese dialects, second to Mandarin. Cantonese is also spoken in many different places, and as geraldc said, many overseas Chinese we meet are Cantonese. Otherwise, no matter where they are from, they'll use Mandarin. I don't think Shanghainese is very widely spoken, overseas or elsewhere. At least not as much as Cantonese.

Also, I tried to learn Shanghainese once. I was able to find nong hao va, xia xia nong, and zai wei... It's extremely hard to find any study material for it. Since Mandarin and Cantonese are the most widely spoken that's what they have in the bookstores and online mostly.

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ameliasj

:roll: I don't know it is a good thing or bad, the government always require us to speak Mandarin, in school, in shops, and almost everywhere outside home. (Teachers must use Madarin in class. ) For foreingers and people from other city, that maybe more easy for conmunication. While for the language itself, it may oneday vanished as a result of fewer and fewer use.:( I saw a lot of children who never say Shanghainese even at home.

There are some books on Shanghainese, but not so popular and easy-to-find. Same as the Shanghainese course.

:wink: When I learned Japanese, I find it sound quite similar to Shanghainese. So it maybe easy for Japanese to learn Shanghainese. Just kidding.

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rose~

In the UK, if I told someone I am learning Chinese, about half of the time they will ask if I mean Cantonese. For many people in the UK, "Chinese" is synonmous with "Cantonese", which may sound odd to someone from the Mainland. I suppose that that is related to the former colonialisation of Hong Kong. But Cantonese is actually now a part of UK culture.

And like others said, Cantonese really has the status of a language (I'm not saying it is a language). It has dictionaries, films, songs, it is listed on menus on a website as a language. In Europe, it is the sound of Cantonese that people associate with Chinese.And most Mainland European (not UK) Chinese University courses have Cantonese as a required component. And here I am working in Shanghai, yet I don't speak Shanghainese. It would not be acceptable in Hong Kong for the equivalent job.

Compare it with Shanghainese, which has no dictionaries, no films, no songs...It has no status officially. It is not heard in official announcements like Cantonese. It is not the working language of multinantional companies here. In fact, there are even signs in some places saying "[pop=please/qǐng]請[/pop][pop=talk/jiǎng]講[/pop][pop=mandarin/pǔtōnghuà]普通話[/pop]". I know a lot of people mention shanghaining.com as an example of Shanghainese culture, but that is just ONE website.

Until Deng Xiaoping's "opening up and reform" policy, there were not many Shanghainese speakers overseas either.

It's kind of sensitive issue to me as I have a few Mainland freinds in the UK who used to basically ridicule Cantonese.

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Ncao

I think if HK was never a British colony and if there wasn't a large oversea Cantonese speaking community, the status of Cantonese would probably be the same as Shanghainese.

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carlo

Learning a language without exposure to native speakers and a vibrant subculture is virtually impossible (even students of hieroglyphics spend years wandering museums). There are dozens of Cantonese films and songs that I like, hundreds of books on Cantonese vocabulary and grammar, and plenty of HK people I know who don't speak enough Mandarin. The appeal of Shanghainese is much less obvious.

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dalaowai

Please don't take offense to my view on it, however to simply put it, Shanghainese isn't easy on the ears.

I lived in Zhejiang and Shanghai during the past 3 years and I have to say that from the point of view of people not familiar with the dialects, (i.e. foreigners or waidiren) Shanghaihua is really painful to hear.

Every morning, I'm woken up around 5:30AM by my neighbours standing outside my apartment door having a "normal" conversation. However, to me it feels like they're having a heated argument. As for my Chinese friends who aren't Shanghainese, they often complain about this as well. I sure enjoy the bus rides where two middle-aged Shanghainese women are yelling at each other in Shanghainese and that every 3rd word is ngagoning (外国人). haha

Another reason is that a large percentage of Shanghainese aren't very supportive of others trying to speak the dialect. If I try speaking Shanghainese to locals, they reply in Mandarin or English.

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Ian_Lee

Actually not too long ago Cantonese was shunned in HK too.

Until early '70s, Mandarin and English were the king. The hundreds of movies that were produced by Shaw Brother Studio were all in Mandarin. Mandarin pop songs from Taiwan were heard everywhere.

Even you went to the theater, Hollywood movies charged the highest, Mandarin movies the second highest while Cantonese movies the cheapest.

The phenomenon only reversed when free TV broadcast started to broadcast in late '60s which principally used Cantonese.

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ameliasj
If I try speaking Shanghainese to locals, they reply in Mandarin or English.

:D well, if you speak Shanghainese to me, I will reply you Shanghainese. I always use Shanghainese when I realized that the listener could fully understand what I say.

The reason they reply in Madarin may because they are not sure whether you could catch up their meanings fully or not. And if they reply in English, that may because they want to improve their English(:wink: Well, we won't have chance to speak to native speakers everyday, so why not take advantage of it.)

I never heard anyone saying that Shanghainese are painful to ears.:( It maybe painful when people are quarrelling or arguing but never in opera. (I mean 沪剧,Shanghainese opera.) Have you ever heard 沪剧?

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dalaowai

Well you're a minority, because I've seldomly had a Shanghainese tolerate me trying to speak Shanghaihua. To the exception of convenient store cashiers who don't want to be bothered to tell the price in Mandarin. haha

Don't talk to me about any form of Chinese opera, they're all painful. I have tried to enjoy it to no avail. :mrgreen:

Ask your non-Shanghainese friends if they think about how Shanghaihua sounds. Stress that they don't need to be polite about what they think, to be truthful with you. You'll see. :)

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wai ming

I think whether or not a language sounds pleasing to the ear really depends on your individual preferences. Plenty of people tell me Cantonese sounds really harsh and ugly, but I actually like the way it sounds :mrgreen: That said, I think it also depends on how much exposure you've had to the language. At the beginning, a lot of the Cantonese I did hear sounded quite harsh on the ears, but as I met more Cantonese speakers and heard Cantonese spoken in more contexts, I met more people who spoke Cantonese quite gently.

As for Shanghainese, the only time I've heard it spoken was when my friend was on the phone to her mother, and the way she spoke sounded quite gently, but maybe it's just her :mrgreen:

As for learning materials, I have a feeling that most of the materials available for Shanghainese are either aimed at native Mandarin speakers (and are thus less accessible for those of us who are still struggling with Mandarin) or are descriptions of it written by linguists... It's hard enough to find good quality learning materials or courses for Cantonese beyond the tourist phrasebook/beginner level, so I can't imagine how hard it must be for anyone interested in learning Shanghainese.

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L-F-J

It sounds kind of nasal doesn't it?

Are there any places online to hear the Shanghai dialect?

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rose~

I am learning Shanghainese now, L-F-J, and I haven't found materials apart from some books for beginners that have cds. It seems to be a problem.

I must admit that I also thought my neighbours were arguing a lot, but then realised it was just the dialect. I find Cantonese softer...(sorry...)

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L-F-J

Yup, I started looking for a second dialect to study after Mandarin. I liked Shanghainese and had friends there but it was impossible to find anything on it in the US, or even online. I think to learn it I'll have to live in Shanghai. But even then, how can I study enough on my own? So, I had to switch to Cantonese, which I really like anyway. :)

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md1101

another problem is shanghainese is only really useful in shanghai. outside of shanghai it is quite unlikely you would have a chance to use it. cantonese is used in southern china, hong kong, as well as all over the world by the overseas chinese and thus is very useful for business and making money. mandarin is an obvious choice but shanghainese is really a bit of a minority dialect.

that said i wish i could speak shanghainese as im sure itd help with business in shanghai. i would assume the locals would respect you for wanting to learn it but i do hear a lot that the shanghainese are very proud and probably wouldn't take too well to a foreigner trying to speak their language. feel free to refute me on that!

i think it sounds very similiar to cantonese.. niether sound as good as mandarin in my opinion.

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L-F-J

but i do hear a lot that the shanghainese are very proud and probably wouldn't take too well to a foreigner trying to speak their language.

Is that pride or selfishness? :roll:

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Yuchi
Here's a site on Shanghainese that our old member "ala" used to mention from time to time. It may be his site.

http://www.zanhe.com/l1.html

What ever happened to ala? I don't see his posts anymore and the site's bbs has been down for quite some time.

another problem is shanghainese is only really useful in shanghai. outside of shanghai it is quite unlikely you would have a chance to use it.

There are other cities (Ningbo) with wu dialects, but Shanghai has the most popular. I'm not sure of intelligibility, but my uncle said it's a bit different there [Ningbo], but not to the point where he couldn't understand them.

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wushijiao
There are other cities (Ningbo) with wu dialects, but Shanghai has the most popular. I'm not sure of intelligibility, but my uncle said it's a bit different there [Ningbo], but not to the point where he couldn't understand them.

I teach in Shanghai, and about 90% of my students are from Shanghai while about 10% are from other areas close by. I've asked my students who are from Zhejiang and southern Jiangsu if they use Shanghaihua to communicate with their Shanghaiese friends. It seems they mainly use Putonghua. From what I've read, it seems that both parties could take a few days, or weeks, and become familiar with the other's vocab and pronunciation, and then use their native hua's to communicate, but, why would one do that if they can both easily use Putonghua? :conf (Of course, this wasn't posible for the older generations who don't speak good Putonghua.)

I think this points to the obvious fact that if Shanghaiese, or Wu, ever wants to flourish, a standardized version of Wu needs to be popularized in the mass media. But, for better or for worse, the government doesn't allow the widespread use of dialects in the mass media.

I think most Wu speakers seem to be unaware that they speak a “dialect/ regionalect/ language/话”(take your pick)- Wu. Instead, they simply think they speak “X city-话”. So, as the younger generations speak better and better Putonghua, the solidarity in uniting to form a solid block to prevent the total destruction of the Wu dialects likewise decreases. In other words, Putonghua, that brutish northern warrior, is practicing a sly form of 反间计: divide and conquer! :twisted::D

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