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Old 06-28-2012, 08:51 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,693 posts, read 16,977,287 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gen2010 View Post
I think most westerners just have no clue about languages in China. there are hundreds of dialects in China. Why do you single out Cantonese? Cantonese is as different from Manderin as Shanghainese from Manderin. If you consider cantonese is a different language, there are more than 1000 different languages in China. thats crazy. Like in english, there is american english, british english, scottish english, but they are all english.
The difference is for the most part a British and American person can understand each other. A Cantonese speaker cannot understand a Mandarin speaker and vice versa. There's a much greater difference. Calling them all 'Chinese' doesn't change this fact.
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Old 06-29-2012, 09:51 PM
 
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It's like English and Dutch

Mutually Unintelligible, yet very related

English speakers cannot understand Dutch; Mandarin speakers cannot understand English

Dutch speakers understand English (only because of 2nd language learning); Cantonese speakers understand Mandarin only because they have learned it in school.
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Old 07-01-2012, 02:54 AM
 
343 posts, read 103,164 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
The difference is for the most part a British and American person can understand each other. A Cantonese speaker cannot understand a Mandarin speaker and vice versa. There's a much greater difference. Calling them all 'Chinese' doesn't change this fact.
I cannot understand a dialect spoken 100 miles from my hometown. There are just to many dialects in china, which all very differ from each other. You cannot call them all languages.
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Old 07-01-2012, 08:14 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
I think Cantonese is definitely a language if you consider Portuguese etc a language. Those who deny it's status as a separate language are hell-bent on creating a sense of Chinese unity. Despite centuries of homogeneity China is still a diverse place. I've heard some sub-dialects of Min and they barely even sounded Chinese to my ears.
It's exactly this sense of Chinese unity that has kept the huge country together.

Let's try to understand the perspective of the very people who speak the dialects/languages we're talking about.
Ask a native Cantonese speaker if they'd call it a dialect of Chinese or not.

AFAIK, most of the 1300000000 Han Chinese are aware that their dialects/languages are sometimes mutually unintelligible, yet if they see them as dialects of one language, who are we to tell them what to call their dialect/language?


Btw, if you think a language is supposed to sound similar, just listen to a couple of accents of English.. You seem to be an expert in them and should know how diverse they sound.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gen2010 View Post
If you have a better understanding of Chinese culture, you would know that there are more than 1000 different languages according to your definition. Cantonese is not even the second most spoken dialect in china. WU dialect in shanghai and surrounding areas is used by more people than Cantonese.
Quote:
Originally Posted by iamnancy07 View Post
As a Chinese, there are many other dialects in China and Cantonese is just one of them. I think Cantonese is just a very popular dialect mostly because Guangdong province is one of the first few well developed regions in early 80s.
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Old 07-01-2012, 09:16 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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^ Well if you want to call Cantonese a 'dialect' you should be calling Portuguese a dialect of Spanish, because Cantonese is more different to Mandarin than Portuguese is to Spanish. If they're mutually unintelligible, they're different languages, simple as that. Indeed, Spanish and Portuguese are more intelligible to each other than Putonghua or Yue. To foster a sense of Chinese 'unity' Chinese academics began insisting they were 'dialects' simply because they shared the same written alphabet. Well languages as unrelated as English, Igbo and Malay use the Roman alphabet. I guess this makes them 'dialects' of each other? And I suppose Vietnamese, Japanese, and Korean should also be called dialects of Chinese too since they once did or now do to an extent use Chinese characters? What a ridiculous premise. A Chinese 'dialect' would be something like Beijing dialect. Yue, Min, Wu etc are separate languages with a very different vocabulary, different tonal system, different grammar even to an extent.
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Old 07-01-2012, 10:40 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
^ Well if you want to call Cantonese a 'dialect' you should be calling Portuguese a dialect of Spanish, because Cantonese is more different to Mandarin than Portuguese is to Spanish. If they're mutually unintelligible, they're different languages, simple as that. Indeed, Spanish and Portuguese are more intelligible to each other than Putonghua or Yue.
Portuguese do not view their language as a dialect of Spanish in spite of a considerable extent of mutual intelligibility, and we respect them for having that view.


Quote:
To foster a sense of Chinese 'unity' Chinese academics began insisting they were 'dialects' simply because they shared the same written alphabet.
Sorry but you got the wrong order.
It is because there's been a sense of unity developing from a common writing system with a history reaching back to more than a thousand years and a common sense of Han Chinese unity, Chinese people view the very divergent varieties as dialects of one language. Academics, Chinese acedemics, for the most part simply reflect Chinese view.

If we can respect the perspective of Portuguese speakers, why can't we do the same with the Chinese?

Also, the very system of Chinese script is not comparable to alphabet because alphabet represents phonemes.
Occidentals couldn't understand why in the world Chinese wouldn't adopt romanization when in Westerners' view it would be much more practical.
A main reason is because with romanization the Chinese unity that had been upheld for over a thousand years would immediately be lost, resulting in dozens or hundreds of different languages.



I suggest we try to understand Chinese culture and history; their perspective instead of trying to impose our Occidental standards upon them.
Quote:
Originally Posted by gen2010 View Post
If you have a better understanding of Chinese culture, you would know that there are more than 1000 different languages according to your definition. Cantonese is not even the second most spoken dialect in china. WU dialect in shanghai and surrounding areas is used by more people than Cantonese.
Quote:
Originally Posted by iamnancy07 View Post
As a Chinese, there are many other dialects in China and Cantonese is just one of them. I think Cantonese is just a very popular dialect mostly because Guangdong province is one of the first few well developed regions in early 80s.
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Old 07-01-2012, 06:48 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,693 posts, read 16,977,287 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neutre View Post
Portuguese do not view their language as a dialect of Spanish in spite of a considerable extent of mutual intelligibility, and we respect them for having that view.



Sorry but you got the wrong order.
It is because there's been a sense of unity developing from a common writing system with a history reaching back to more than a thousand years and a common sense of Han Chinese unity, Chinese people view the very divergent varieties as dialects of one language. Academics, Chinese acedemics, for the most part simply reflect Chinese view.

If we can respect the perspective of Portuguese speakers, why can't we do the same with the Chinese?

Also, the very system of Chinese script is not comparable to alphabet because alphabet represents phonemes.
Occidentals couldn't understand why in the world Chinese wouldn't adopt romanization when in Westerners' view it would be much more practical.
A main reason is because with romanization the Chinese unity that had been upheld for over a thousand years would immediately be lost, resulting in dozens or hundreds of different languages.



I suggest we try to understand Chinese culture and history; their perspective instead of trying to impose our Occidental standards upon them.
Maybe because they ARE separate languages under our definition of what a 'language' is? So if Dutch people consider their language a dialect of English we should 'respect' their wishes? If the Japanese considered that they were descended from some divine Sun Emperor we should respect their wishes and agree with them? That is ridiculous, it is what it is. They're LANGUAGES as far as I'm concerned.
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Old 07-01-2012, 07:47 PM
 
Location: Pāhoa, HI & Manhattan Beach, CA
1,715 posts, read 3,433,483 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
Maybe because they ARE separate languages under our definition of what a 'language' is? So if Dutch people consider their language a dialect of English we should 'respect' their wishes? If the Japanese considered that they were descended from some divine Sun Emperor we should respect their wishes and agree with them? That is ridiculous, it is what it is. They're LANGUAGES as far as I'm concerned.
To paraphrase a saying made popular by sociolinguist Max Weinreich, "a language is nothing more than a dialect with an army and navy."

If one uses mutual intelligibility as a measuring stick, then there are dozens of Chinese languages which can be divided into hundreds of dialects and thousands of subdialects. However, most Chinese linguists use a different measuring stick to classify their fangyan (方言) or "regional speech." In "What Is a Chinese 'Dialect/Topolect'? Reflections on Some Key Sino-English Linguistic Terms", scholar Victor H. Mair provides some clarity on the topic. Here's a link to the PDF...
http://www.sino-platonic.org/complet...se_dialect.pdf
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Old 07-01-2012, 08:10 PM
 
986 posts, read 2,202,634 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
Maybe because they ARE separate languages under our definition of what a 'language' is? So if Dutch people consider their language a dialect of English we should 'respect' their wishes? If the Japanese considered that they were descended from some divine Sun Emperor we should respect their wishes and agree with them? That is ridiculous, it is what it is. They're LANGUAGES as far as I'm concerned.
The language situation in China can be very difficult to grasp because there's practically no other language in the world that has had a common writing system going back into more than a thousand years.
Sure there are other old languages like Latin and Sanskrit whose history can also be traced back that long, but in their cases the emergence of new languages with separate identities is inevitable due to the nature of the writing system (alphabet, abugida, abjad, etc.).
In Chinese it is possible for folks to communicate using the common written language in spite of the development of over a thousand years rendering the spoken language completely unintelligible to each other.
That is an unprecedented phenomenon practically inexistant anywhere else as far as I can tell.
There is a reason why Chinese see themselves as having one language, yet some of us with our arrogance, thinking that we know better as outsiders, try to tell them that their understanding about THEMSELVES is completely wrong.

Call it whatever you want, I'll stick to respecting the native speakers who have best understanding of their own culture and history, having their own reasons for considering their native tongue a Chinese dialect.
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Old 07-01-2012, 08:23 PM
 
986 posts, read 2,202,634 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
So if Dutch people consider their language a dialect of English we should 'respect' their wishes?
As a matter of fact, I would respect that. Yes.
There are enough examples of dialects of a language that are not mutually intelligible with others, just as there are separate languages with high mutual intelligibility.
Examples
for the former: German varieties spoken in Switzerland, those in southern Germany and the ones spoken in northern Germany
for the latter: Montenegrin, Serbian, and Bosnian.

But I guess you're an expert who knows better than me or any native speakers for that matter.
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