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Chinese Language vs. Dialects

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Raincrowlee
Tetraglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4835 days ago

621 posts - 808 votes 
Speaks: English*, Mandarin, Korean, French
Studies: Indonesian, Japanese

 
 Message 17 of 37
14 February 2007 at 6:21am | IP Logged 
I actually wonder if being able to read means much in terms of whether or not they are the same language, because to a certain degree, you can read Japanese and understand it, or old Korean texts printed in Chinese characters, can't you? There's no way you'd say that they're related languages.
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glossika
Super Polyglot
Pro Member
China
english.glossika.com
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45 posts - 72 votes 
Speaks: Mandarin, English*, German, Italian, Russian, Taiwanese, Shanghainese, Tok Pisin, Malay, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Romanian, Croatian, Serbian, Icelandic, Georgian, Indonesian
Studies: Czech, Vietnamese, Mongolian, Latvian, Persian, Arabic (Written)
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 Message 18 of 37
15 February 2007 at 5:00am | IP Logged 
sumabeast wrote:
the case with chinese is that the political forces within China do not at all want to give rise to further ethnic separateness that comes with a separate language, so they go on inisting that Mandarin, and Cantonese, and the others are merely dialects of a single language to preserve the single Chinese identity.


Yes, you are right. The Chinese insist on Putonghua普通話 as the universal language. However, the Chinese use the term fangyan方言 to refer to the various languages around China. This is incorrectly translated into English as "dialect". It should be "topolect". 方 means topo- and 言 means -lect as used in the way English makes compound nouns.

Making everybody speak Putonghua is the basic minimum, because EVEN with that, it's still hard to communicate.

I have thousands of real-life examples. But a more recent one: I just met a man from Bozhou亳州 (Anhui) on the train and although he claimed to speak Putonghua, I could barely understand him. Sure, he was speaking Putonghua with his regional accent and everybody does that, and it really makes it hard to understand people. What he means is that he's using Putonghua grammar/syntax and vocabulary, that way I can understand him. However, what he's not doing is using the same phonology and that makes it hard. I know that the 土話 in Bozhou, Anhui is actually a Mandarin dialect. However, think for a moment if this guy spoke to me in his own 土話 not just using his phonology, but also using the local, regional vocabulary/slang and syntax. Would I understand him? Well, probably most likely definitely absolutely not. Unless I recognized some terms similar to other main languages I've learned around China. But that's simply an area I'm just not familiar with and I'd only be guessing.

And he was born a Mandarin speaker!

I actually try to record people and the conversations I have with them as much as possible because it's really neat to listen to them later. Everybody I meet I ask them where they're from because it's always different and interesting and I can always find out something new.


Edited by glossika on 15 February 2007 at 5:03am

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maxb
Diglot
Senior Member
Sweden
Joined 5316 days ago

536 posts - 589 votes 
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Speaks: Swedish*, English
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 19 of 37
15 February 2007 at 7:52am | IP Logged 
Raincrowlee wrote:
I actually wonder if being able to read means much in terms of whether or not they are the same language, because to a certain degree, you can read Japanese and understand it, or old Korean texts printed in Chinese characters, can't you? There's no way you'd say that they're related languages.


I agree. You could probably write English with chinese characters if you wanted to. How about the following

我有都道是入特休过入外因语言们

我 = I
有 = have
都 = all
道 = ways
是 = been
入 = in
特 = te
休 = rest
过 = ed
入 = in
外 = fo
因 = reign (rin)
语 = lan
言 = guage
们 = es



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maxb
Diglot
Senior Member
Sweden
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536 posts - 589 votes 
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Speaks: Swedish*, English
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 20 of 37
15 February 2007 at 8:01am | IP Logged 
solidsnake wrote:
how's the cantonese coming max?


Slowly, because I am not spending much time at it. I am just learning a sentence a day at the moment with the chorus method. However I am also learning it as an experiment to see if you can pick up a tonal language totally by ear. I.e. pick up the tones just by hearing and imitating them instead of someone telling that you are supposed to hear a falling tone followed by a midlevel tone followed by a high tone.....

I plan to learn cantonese by listening and imitating as much as possible.
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knewman
Groupie
China
Joined 4941 days ago

44 posts - 41 votes
Speaks: Mandarin*
Studies: English

 
 Message 21 of 37
17 February 2007 at 12:08am | IP Logged 
现在中文在大陆基本普及了mandarin
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patuco
Diglot
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Gibraltar
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 Message 22 of 37
17 February 2007 at 8:26am | IP Logged 
English please or provide a translation. Not everyone who's reading this understands what you've written.
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glossika
Super Polyglot
Pro Member
China
english.glossika.com
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Speaks: Mandarin, English*, German, Italian, Russian, Taiwanese, Shanghainese, Tok Pisin, Malay, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Romanian, Croatian, Serbian, Icelandic, Georgian, Indonesian
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 Message 23 of 37
17 February 2007 at 3:52pm | IP Logged 
knewman wrote:
现在中文在大陆基本普及了mandarin


I don't necessarily agree. But that seems to be the trend.

patuco wrote:
English please or provide a translation. Not everyone who's reading this understands what you've written.


Enforcing certain language use on others is an abuse of their basic linguistic rights. That person's profile says a native Mandarin speaker learning English.


Edited by glossika on 18 February 2007 at 12:29am

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Journeyer
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
tristan85.blogspot.c
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946 posts - 1110 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, German
Studies: Sign Language

 
 Message 24 of 37
17 February 2007 at 5:09pm | IP Logged 
glossika wrote:
   
patuco wrote:
English please or provide a translation. Not everyone who's reading this understands what you've written.


你寫的英文可能不是每個人都看得懂耶。

Enforcing certain language use on others is an abuse of their basic linguistic rights. This is a language forum so I would expect to see languages of all kinds used herein. Besides, the profile says a native Mandarin speaker learning English.

You could probably get Google to translate it for free.


I mean this with respect, definitely not as a reprimand. :-) You are right that this is a language forum, so of course there will be, and should be, I think, other languages used here. But the common denominator here, besides that a love of language, is a common language, and that's why I think Patuco was asking for an English translation. It's not meant to be rude, and it is not at all meant to be oppressive or enforcing of English or any other language. It's simply meant to not exclude others who might not speak the language in question.


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