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Old 05-29-2014, 07:31 AM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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I've always wondered about this: was/is Mandarin just the 'standard Chinese' or most common form of Chinese spoken through most of China, in the area in which Mandarin is the sole lingua franca today, standardised by the Mandarins in Beijing? Or did say, the peoples of Sichuan speak another language until recently? Are say Yue, Wu, Min really any closer to 'Middle Chinese' as some claim? I mean they SOUND pretty damn different to Mandarin if you ask me.
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Old 05-29-2014, 07:52 AM
 
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There is some major confusion about mandarin among western countries.

The standard mandarin putonghua, lingua franca in China, is the native language of very very few Chinese. People throughout China speak all sorts of different dialects. Cantonese, the one foreigners are most familiar with, is simply one of them. So are Wu, minnan etc.

Northern dialects are more similar to Mandarin because Mandarin was created based on them. But that doesn't mean they are the same, or northern Chinese simply speak Mandarin. They speak their own languages with families and friends, which still can be quiet different from Mandarin. Even Beijing dialect can be so different from Mandarin that people from other regions have trouble understanding them when they talk. Northern dialects =/= mandarin (putonghua)

Mandarin is simply the language people from different areas use when communicating with each other. Northern dialects, including southwestern are more similar in terms of pronunciation and vocabulary, but they are different enough. I was in Chengdu and trust me, you won't understand more than 70% of local dialect if you are from Beijing.

Here in Canada people often ask the stupid question "do you speak Cantonese or Mandarin" as if they are two parallele and mutually exclusive languages, as if there is a either Cantonese or Mandarin thing in China. This stems from the fact that there is disproportionately number of Cantonese speakers overseas. However, it is rapidly changing.

What is one supposed to answer if he is from Jiangxi or Hunan? He speaks the local language but Mandarin as well. Usually they say I speak Mandarin and therefore become part of "mandarin speakers" in the census, but that's just wrong. Most Cantonese speakers speak good mandarine too. Very few people outside Guangdong in China speak Cantonese because ... why the hell do you speak a dialect from a different region? There is really nothing special about Cantonese among China's hunreds of languages.
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Old 05-29-2014, 08:05 AM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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^ Well most non-Chinese linguists (including many 'Overseas Chinese') agree that Yue and Putonghua are definitely distinct languages by any definition. It's mostly the PRC who said that Mandarin was the standard dialect of standard Chinese and the others were just dialects. In that case, one could argue Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi are all merely 'dialects' of Hindi.
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Old 05-29-2014, 08:13 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Postman View Post
^ Well most non-Chinese linguists (including many 'Overseas Chinese') agree that Yue and Putonghua are definitely distinct languages by any definition. It's mostly the PRC who said that Mandarin was the standard dialect of standard Chinese and the others were just dialects. In that case, one could argue Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi are all merely 'dialects' of Hindi.
The line between language and dielect is always blurry. Is Portuguese a different language from Spanish? Swedish from Norweigian? They are definitely more alike than say between putonghua and Shanghainese.

sure, Cantonese language or not, it doesn't matter. what matter is it is stupid to ask people do you speak Cantonese or Mandarin as of it is an either/or situation among 1.4B Chinese. Also, as I pointed out, few people speak Mandarin as their native tongue.
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Old 05-29-2014, 08:25 AM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Originally Posted by botticelli View Post
The line between language and dielect is always blurry. Is Portuguese a different language from Spanish? Swedish from Norweigian? They are definitely more alike than say between putonghua and Shanghainese.

sure, Cantonese language or not, it doesn't matter. what matter is it is stupid to ask people do you speak Cantonese or Mandarin as of it is an either/or situation among 1.4B Chinese. Also, as I pointed out, few people speak Mandarin as their native tongue.
No, it's not stupid. Cantonese is more different to Mandarin as English to German, and they're not mutually intelligible. They share about 60% of vocabulary. In other words, Vietnamese or Korean shares almost the same amount of vocab as Cantonese and Mandarin, although of course vocab doesn't mean actual 'genetic' relatedness, as English and French shows.

It's not stupid, they're totally different. Many in HK don't speak Mandarin even today. So they would say they speak Cantonese, not Mandarin. Likewise, of course the vast majority of Chinese cannot speak Cantonese.
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Old 05-29-2014, 08:56 AM
 
Location: Taipei
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Think of the different dialects in Germany,that's kinda the same situation,just that China is like 25 times bigger than Germany,so it's much more complicated.

Since China has such a long ass history,the people that lived in different areas of China had their own languages,as time goes by the phonetics of each language have evolved and changed into Putonghua,Wu,Cantonese blahblahblah.They all have influences on each other though since China was an empire for many centuries.Have you heard of that first emperor who was really cruel and gross and etc?He standardized the characters within the empire,but not the phonetics,that's why all these dialects sound very different.

Btw Minnan and Cantonese sorts of remain many of the ancient phonetics of ancient Chinese languages,the Chinese poetry would sound much closer to the original rendition if you read them out loud in Cantonese or Minnan.It's really difficult though.

Another btw,which is kinda off topic lol.The Minnan spoken in Taiwan is quite different from the one spoken in Fujian in China because the former has been greatly influenced by the Japanese language because of the colonization.

Anyway the word "Mandarin" derives from Manchu because it was in Qing Dynasty when the Western powers started invading China,so they called the language Mandarin.Thus,Mandarin is generally referring to the Chinese spoken in the north since the monarchy was in northern region.
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Old 05-29-2014, 09:17 AM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greysholic View Post
Think of the different dialects in Germany,that's kinda the same situation,just that China is like 25 times bigger than Germany,so it's much more complicated.

Since China has such a long ass history,the people that lived in different areas of China had their own languages,as time goes by the phonetics of each language have evolved and changed into Putonghua,Wu,Cantonese blahblahblah.They all have influences on each other though since China was an empire for many centuries.Have you heard of that first emperor who was really cruel and gross and etc?He standardized the characters within the empire,but not the phonetics,that's why all these dialects sound very different.

Btw Minnan and Cantonese sorts of remain many of the ancient phonetics of ancient Chinese languages,the Chinese poetry would sound much closer to the original rendition if you read them out loud in Cantonese or Minnan.It's really difficult though.

Another btw,which is kinda off topic lol.The Minnan spoken in Taiwan is quite different from the one spoken in Fujian in China because the former has been greatly influenced by the Japanese language because of the colonization.

Anyway the word "Mandarin" derives from Manchu because it was in Qing Dynasty when the Western powers started invading China,so they called the language Mandarin.Thus,Mandarin is generally referring to the Chinese spoken in the north since the monarchy was in northern region.
It's political. Why are the languages of India considered separate language when they evolved the same way as the Chinese 'dialects'? Many European languages are closer to each other than these so-called 'dialects.' It's simply a political ploy to de-legitimise the other languages.
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Old 05-29-2014, 09:30 AM
 
Location: Taipei
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Well....I am not sure.
I think they are considered dialects are because all these languages are used within one single nation and they kinda share the same grammar system,while the European languages are quite exclusively spoken in each country.Politics may or may not have influences though,I mean in English there's this difference between a "language" and a "dialect",while in Chinese,Wu,Minnan,Cantonese and everything else are all called "語".
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Old 05-29-2014, 09:36 AM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greysholic View Post
Well....I am not sure.
I think they are considered dialects are because all these languages are used within one single nation and they kinda share the same grammar system,while the European languages are quite exclusively spoken in each country.Politics may or may not have influences though,I mean in English there's this difference between a "language" and a "dialect",while in Chinese,Wu,Minnan,Cantonese and everything else are all called "語".
Like I said, India is a nation with many languages, China is no different. It's only the government that considers them dialects, most linguists agree they share all the markers of separate languages.
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Old 05-29-2014, 09:42 AM
 
Location: Taipei
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Then I guess the totalitarian regime has something to deal with the categorization.Or maybe it's the old,dated,feel-good idea of "we are the center of the world you're all barbarians" sort of stuff.
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