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Chinese "languages"

From:Jonathan Chang <zhang2323@...>
Date:Tuesday, May 9, 2000, 19:40
In a message dated 2000/05/09 03:49:35 PM Acadon quotes & writes:

>> "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.
> >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. >
Okay, I talked to my British-colonial-educated mother (she speaks several dialects of Chinese - Mandarin, Foochow, Hokkien, & Cantonese [& even some Shanghai, Japanese & Malay... and "Singlish," which she insists is "a legitimate deviant English"]). I asked her what is her wisdom on this differences in Chinese dialects. She says: The dialects of Chinese are "as different as German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Greek & Gypsy ... There are 25-26 some MAJOR dialects...too many to count minor ones and mixtures... confusion plus plus." (She jokes that Cantonese is like the German of China according to some... or at least some think Cantonese is the ugliest, shrillest "gutter" dialect in China... others think Hakka is. To some, Shanghai dialect has a reputation of being very much in being "sing-song-y like Italian").
> >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.
I relayed this to my mom & all she said was "intriguing theory." Then she said "but they are all Chinese-influenced more or less, la." (Then she pestered me about this being my birthday :) zHANg