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Re: "Re-formed" Latin-script writing

From:AcadonBot <acadon@...>
Date:Tuesday, May 9, 2000, 15:45
From: "John Cowan" <jcowan@...>
Sent: Tuesday, May 09, 2000 7:55 AM
> > Given that much of the mutual unintelligibility of the dialects is
> > grounded in pronunciation and word choice, wouldn't "'different as
> > is from Portuguese" or some such be a more accurate analogy?
> "Mandarin is to Cantonese as French is to Romanian." > --anon
There are some dialects within Mandarin that differ more from each other than Spanish from Portuguese.
> > With the unity > > of the written form and the ever-tauted five thousand years of Chinese > > history which most Han plug into, why place 'dialect' in quotes?
There is by no means total unity in written form. A TV "soap opera" in Taiwanese will have a script -- handwritten in characters that may or may not appear in Standard Chinese (Mandarin). That script could not be read at all by a Cantonese or an inhabitant of Beijing. The characters for things as basic as pronouns and the common "prepositions" in written Cantonese are in many cases completely unknown to those who use only the Standard (Mandarin) language.
> Language/dialect distinctions, insofar as there is any metaphysical basis > for them at all other than Weinreich's Rule ("a language is a dialect > with an army and a navy"), are typically founded on spoken rather than > written forms. The 8 or so main "dialects" would be called "languages" > in any other situation.
> > If "Wu" and > > "Yue" were still their own countries, I might be inclined to call them > > separate languages for political reasons,
The Wu zone suffers today from having no standardized form. Suzhou, Shanghainese, Wenzhou etc. are all "dialects" of Wu that differ from each other in many cases far more than Spanish and Portuguese. Incidently, the language of the ancient state of Wu, may have been a form more closely related to Thai. Not a Sinitic language at all. But that is another matter. Regards, LEO MOSER