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Old 07-20-2013, 03:27 PM
 
Location: SGV, CA
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As you can see from the map almost all of China north of the Yangtze river speaks Mandarin except for the regions bordering Mongolia. By contrast, in South China there are 6 languages with at least 30 million speakers. What are the historical reasons for this? Are there geographic terrain features isolated these regions from each other and from the north prior to industrialization? Was the south so far from Beijing that none of the emperors cared what language they spoke? I'd be interested if anyone can shed some light on this.
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Old 07-20-2013, 05:50 PM
 
Location: Texas
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There are many versions of "Mandarin" in the north, some of them are not mutually intelligible.
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Old 07-21-2013, 12:04 AM
 
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Chinese culture originated in the north. Southern Chinese were sinicized later.
The north (between Great Wall and Yangtze River) has been culturally unified since 3000 years ago, at least.
South China, on the other hand, had been culturally diverse until Yuan Dynasty (less than 1000 years ago)
Even today there are many ethnic groups in south China.

In the south, Chinese language was influenced by different languages and formed clusters.
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Old 07-24-2013, 03:05 PM
 
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I think Cantonese(many different version) is the second major Chinese language. I think there are more Cantonese speaking Chinese in US than mandarin. I have no data to back it up.

I think Vietnamese accent Cantonese is very funny.

Most Chinese can learn different dialect without any problem.

Last edited by spotlesseden; 07-24-2013 at 03:22 PM..
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Old 07-24-2013, 03:50 PM
 
Location: In the heights
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One of the reasons could be the difference in topography where the southern reaches of China had a lot more geographic isolation among the different communities so communications were sparser and the ability to form a more unified single language was more difficult and the preservation for variations easier.

Here's a topographic map of China:
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Old 07-26-2013, 04:50 AM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bettafish View Post
Chinese culture originated in the north. Southern Chinese were sinicized later.
The north (between Great Wall and Yangtze River) has been culturally unified since 3000 years ago, at least.
South China, on the other hand, had been culturally diverse until Yuan Dynasty (less than 1000 years ago)
Even today there are many ethnic groups in south China.

In the south, Chinese language was influenced by different languages and formed clusters.
This is correct, I don't know the exact history of the Chinese languages, or how they developed and diverged, but obviously the languages of the Southeast had more autonomy than those nearer the heartland of China. To what extent say Yue/Cantonese was a pre-Han substrate is not really any easy thing to determine. Either way, I fear Mandarin imperialism might put these Sinitic languages under threat, as well as the other minority languages of China.
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Old 07-26-2013, 11:20 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Postman View Post
This is correct, I don't know the exact history of the Chinese languages, or how they developed and diverged, but obviously the languages of the Southeast had more autonomy than those nearer the heartland of China. To what extent say Yue/Cantonese was a pre-Han substrate is not really any easy thing to determine. Either way, I fear Mandarin imperialism might put these Sinitic languages under threat, as well as the other minority languages of China.
China government restricts using "dialects" in public media.
For example, people in Sichuan are mutually intelligible with "Sichuanese", but there are zero Sichuanese TV channels, because it is not allowed.
Some TV shows are made in Sichuanese but there are rules dictating how much time they can occupy every day.

Relatively speaking, Cantonese is shown more often because it is also used in Hong Kong.
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Old 08-18-2013, 01:42 PM
 
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Non-Han Chinese, Zhuang, Yi, Miao, Manchus... speak different languages. Han Chinese in different parts of China MAY speak different DIALECTS.

Northern Chinese Mandarin can varies in different parts of Northern China.
Historic reasons for Southern China is the area was not inhabited by Han but different tribes collectively called Bai Yue before the Qin dynasty sent troops and people in. Han Chinese was orginally centered around the Huang He River. The dialects in Southern China is the result of intermixing of Han immigrants from the North and local tribes over the course of 2000+ years.
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Old 08-18-2013, 11:27 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lokeung) View Post
Non-Han Chinese, Zhuang, Yi, Miao, Manchus... speak different languages. Han Chinese in different parts of China MAY speak different DIALECTS.

Northern Chinese Mandarin can varies in different parts of Northern China.
Historic reasons for Southern China is the area was not inhabited by Han but different tribes collectively called Bai Yue before the Qin dynasty sent troops and people in. Han Chinese was orginally centered around the Huang He River. The dialects in Southern China is the result of intermixing of Han immigrants from the North and local tribes over the course of 2000+ years.
Yes. To my ears, languages like Hokkien sound more like South-East Asian languages like Thai and Vietnamese (nasality for instance) rather than Mandarin. Also, as has been mentioned, the terrain restricted free movement and spread of languages as in the plains of North China.
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