How Much Do You Know about Dialects in China?

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How Much Do You Know About Dialects In China?

China has seven majot dialect groups. Each group subdivides into many dialects. The people of each province have a special dialect; the people of each city, each town, and each village have their own special dialect as well. In many countries, a person using a southern vernacular can understand a person with a northern dialect. However, two people who speak even within the same dialect group do not necessarily completely understand each other. The general situation is that one can understand perfectly people speaking the same local dialect, but intelligibility decreases as the speakers com from more and more distant regions.




Northeast and Southwest of China. This widespread spoken Chinese is based on the Beijing dialect. Putonghua (Mandarin) is usally considered more formal and is required when speaking to a person who does not understand local dialect. 




Over 90% of Chinese people speak Mandarin, but they may very likely also speak another dialect. The local dialect is generally considered more intimate and is used among close family members and friends and in everyday conversation within the local area. Chinese speakers will frequently code switch between Putonghua (Mandarin) and local dialects. Parents generally speak to their children in dialect and Putonghua appears to be mostly stable. Most Chinese know that local dialects are of considerable social benefit; and when they permanently move to a new area, they will attempt to pick up the local dialect. Usually learning a new dialect is done informally through a process of immersion and recognizing sound shifts.


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