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Old 12-15-2018, 05:11 PM
 
Location: San Diego CA
4,857 posts, read 3,382,404 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
This is the correct answer. "Chinese" is not one language, but a group of mutually unintelligible dialects that share a writing system.

Mandarin is the official, standard dialect of Chinese which is used in the media and taught to all schoolchildren. But it is a second language for many millions of Chinese.

Yup. My wife grew up in Northern Malaysia and Singapore where Cantonese was spoken by the local Chinese. Back in the 60's especially in Singapore people were primary Cantonese speakers and also had some proficiency in the dialects they just picked up on the street. In addition to Cantonese my wife could speak a little Hakka, Hokkien and Teochew. And also some Malay when she lived in Ipoh Malaysia.
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Old 12-15-2018, 05:18 PM
 
Location: Lone Mountain Las Vegas NV
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Good friends were a pair of Chinese-American PhDs. Their children spoke English and Mandarin fluently. The parents however also spoke a Shanghai dialect that they never taught the children. So for a private conversation...
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Old 12-15-2018, 06:27 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gen2010 View Post
there are a lot of languages with local accents. but they are not called a completely different name. If you say Mandarin without any context, people will have difficulty understanding what it is refering to
If you say "Mandarin" to whom? What "people" will have difficulty understanding what's being referred to? Chinese people? "Mandarin" is basically the Western word for what used to be called the "government language" or "official government language", back in the day. Way back.
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Old 12-15-2018, 07:26 PM
 
Location: Coastal New Jersey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gen2010 View Post
there are a lot of languages with local accents. but they are not called a completely different name. If you say Mandarin without any context, people will have difficulty understanding what it is refering to
A dialect is not a "local accent".

There are accents within Mandarin, such as the Beijing accent, but Taiwanese and Cantonese and the Sichuan dialect and so forth are not "accents" any more than Dutch is an accent of English, even thought the two languages are closely related.

I never met a person who didn't know that Mandarin is the most widely-spoken and official dialect in China.
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Old 12-15-2018, 07:41 PM
 
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Mandarin is the translation for 官 or a Chinese government official. "Official language" is often called 官话 (話) in Chinese, so that translates to "Mandarin language". It's easier to say "Mandarin Chinese" for the benefit of those who don't know that there are many mutually unintelligible "Chinese dialects". 普通话 translates to "common language" and 國語 translates to "national language". Although both terms are more common when speaking in Chinese, they just don't translate very well when the speaker is using English or another non-Chinese language.
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Old 12-15-2018, 07:44 PM
 
Location: Middle of the ocean
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Here it is common to specify Mandarin or Cantonese, or Tagalog or Ilocano.
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Old 12-15-2018, 08:54 PM
 
Location: Silicon Valley, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msgsing View Post
Yup. My wife grew up in Northern Malaysia and Singapore where Cantonese was spoken by the local Chinese. Back in the 60's especially in Singapore people were primary Cantonese speakers and also had some proficiency in the dialects they just picked up on the street. In addition to Cantonese my wife could speak a little Hakka, Hokkien and Teochew. And also some Malay when she lived in Ipoh Malaysia.
That's interesting. In Singapore I thought the largest dialect group were Hokkien speakers, then Cantonese.
That's why the Singapore government pushed Mandarin for the Chinese community, as a common lingua franca given the many different dialects being used.

In Malaysia, the Chinese dialect varies by region or location. In Penang, more Hokkien speakers. KL and Ipoh probably has more Cantonese speakers. And if you're Malaysian, it's pretty much necessary you learn Bahasa Malaysia - it's the official language.
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Old 12-15-2018, 09:46 PM
 
Location: Elysium
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Quote:
Originally Posted by projectmaximus View Post
I was even gonna mention Tagalog as an example until I looked it up and for the first time realized Filipino is an actual term for the broader language. Growing up around a lot of Filipinos I was always told the language is Tagalog.
Probably because everybody knew what Marcos was doing when creating a national language around Tagalog and like the French do tried to make up unique Filipino words instead of using Spanish and English words. Calling the language Filipino was just a way to tie the rest of the nation to the Tagalogs of the capital region.
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Old 12-15-2018, 10:50 PM
 
Location: Silicon Valley, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikala43 View Post
Here it is common to specify Mandarin or Cantonese, or Tagalog or Ilocano.
That's due to the provincial origins of the immigrants who came to the US, historically. Most of the early Chinese immigrants to America came from Guangdong province, thus many are Cantonese speaking. This of course later changed when you had folks coming from other regions, which is the case today. In NYC, you'll find a lot of Fujian-speaking Chinese immigrants. However, Mandarin is widely spoken as a lingua franca.

Similarly, there are a lot of Filipinos in the US who come from the Ilocos region; many of the ones in Hawaii in particular are Iloco. As the Philippines is an island archipelago, there are many regional languages spoken. Pilipino or Tagalog is a lingua franca.
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Old 12-16-2018, 05:02 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
78,625 posts, read 70,508,089 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikala43 View Post
Here it is common to specify Mandarin or Cantonese, or Tagalog or Ilocano.
If you live in a region, where there's a lot of Chinese immigrants, there will be plenty of occasions to specify, if the topic comes up. For example, cable TV programming in the Bay Area has both Mandarin and Cantonese on separate schedules or channels. And I"m not sure, but there seems to be a 3rd dialect some of the time, which may be Shanghainese. Shopowners in Chinatown tend to be Cantonese-speaking, so people wanting to practice their Mandarin might have to search to find a Mandarin-speaker. Restaurant owners may be mainly Cantonese-speaking, but there are some mainland Chinese Mandarin restaurateurs, too.

But for the general public, unless they have an interest in Chinese language or culture, the occasion probably doesn't arise, that would require them to differentiate.
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