Talk:Varieties of Chinese
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merge & move
This is the article once at "Spoken Chinese". It was partially merged with the old "Varieties of Chinese", which covered the same topic but was more recent and was tagged for 'multiple issues'. The remnants of that article (its salvageable content) as well as its edit history is preserved at Talk:Varieties of Chinese/content fork.
Standard Chinese or Mandarin?
IMO Mandarin is anachronistic - more suited to Qing officials and ducks. Can we edit the article to refer to 'standard Chinese'? After all the English speak English (not Anglo-saxon). The Italians speak Italian (not Tuscan). The Spanish speak Spanish (not Castilian), etc etc. Thanks. --Kleinzach 06:21, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
- Hmm. Let me assume good faith here. This section title (above) is entitled 'Standard Chinese or Mandarin?'. My first post contained a question. that question read "Can we edit the article to refer to 'standard Chinese'?" The rest of the short message explained the background to my suggestion. Is that clear now? --Kleinzach 02:16, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
the dialect thing- its not political
as early as 1848, this english language publication (written and published by non chinese englishmen), refers to varieties of Chinese as "dialects", and acknowledges that the "Dialect" term is used differently than what a dialect in the west would be described like. It acknowledges that chinese dialects are mutually unintelligible, but calls them dialects, and says that the "Written character" is what unites them.
Therefore, the conspiracy theory thats been flying around, claiming that the term "dialec", was falsely applied to chinese languages by the communist party to deliberately misinform people that Chinese isn't a united language, is wrong.
There is no "playing politics", or lies on the part of the Chinese government regarding dialects- I didn't know that the communist party existed in 1848 and managed to magically take control of an English printing press and publishing company to print "propaganda".ΔΥΝΓΑΝΕ (talk) 01:25, 17 May 2011 (UTC)
- It most certainly is political, just as it was political when Japanese speakers claimed that the languages in the Ryukyu islands were dialects. "We call them dialects in <insert language>" is not a valid excuse, nor are the claims of a misinformed linguist from the year 1848. Linguists, today, consider the many languages of China to be separate languages and refer to them as such. What China refers to them as is irrelevant, as they are not linguists. What Chinese linguists refer to them as in Mandarin is also irrelevant, as this is an English wikipedia article. 184.108.40.206 (talk) 11:04, 31 May 2011 (UTC)
- "dialect" means regional speech, typically mutually intelligible with each other. "Fangyan" in chinese, means "regional speech", the speech/ langauge of a specific region, regardless of mutual intelligibility. There is no equivalent word in English. "Dialect", was originally chosen by englishmen who chose that word to define Fangyan, not Chinese people. the author of that 1848 publication himself acknowledged that the "Dialects", were not mutually intelligible, but he used that word to describe them for lack of a better term. back then, hardly any chinese knew english- the westerners were the first to call chinese languages "dialects".ΔΥΝΓΑΝΕ (talk) 19:34, 31 May 2011 (UTC)
- Actually, there are German dialects that people who only speak standard German cannot understand; same with Italian dialects. Linguists sometimes likewise call Spanish and Italian "dialects" or "idioms" of Modern Vulgar Latin. Hence, fangyan as "dialect" does make sense. It only seems not to sometimes because English does not have this kind of wide variation in dialects. For English-speakers, we would have to listen to other Germanic languages to get an idea of what, say, Cantonese would sound like to somebody who only spoke Mandarin (For example, here's a sample of Norwegian:  ) BGManofID (talk) 03:24, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
- Wot common Chinese people refer to the language(s) as, yes, is irrelavant, you're right. But how Chinese linguists refers to them can't be simply dismissed as such, can it? Do we not have any linguists, may I ask? I personally think that you are removing them from the discussion-----"wot do you Chinese know? This is English wikipedia!" Please, state the facts and argue the ideas, but save the patronising.220.127.116.11 (talk) 12:42, 22 July 2011 (UTC)
Top-level grouping is presented as misleadingly definite and discrete
According to Gan Chinese, Gan and Xiang were only carved out of the Mandarin region in 1937. Jin Chinese was carved out in 1985 by a single linguist, Li Rong, on the basis of a single feature, retention of the final glottal stop, even though it is retained in other areas such as Southwestern Mandarin, which apparently no prominent linguist has championed promoting to a top-level group, even though Chinese people perceive Sichuanese to be as distinctive as Xiang or Gan.
Actually Sichuan, Hunan, and Jiangxi all show stratification between more Mandarinized dialects in their northern plains and more conservative, divergent dialects farther southwest in and near the hills. Here the English Wikipedia articles are behind the Chinese Wikipedia articles in incorporating newer and more detailed evidence. These patterns are actually a good fit for the wave model which is nowhere mentioned in this article, which only talks about tree structure.
Varieties_of_Chinese#Quantitative_similarity apparently remains the only actual citation (at least in English Wikipedia) of quantitative study of distance between major Chinese dialects, as opposed to particular linguists' edicts on top-level grouping presented without supporting reasoning. Apparently the presentation of a single definite tree in this article follows the standard English-language survey textbooks like Norman and Ramsey, which are now about 25 years old, and based on Chinese sources older than that.
Various linguists' positions on top-level grouping are indeed facts we should document, but Wikipedia should not strongly endorse or reify one particular position, e.g. by providing a very prominent map, tree, or outline for one grouping, and little to nothing for others, when the situation is so indefinite. Contrast Afroasiatic_languages#Distribution_and_branches which instead prominently presents the variation and conflict between linguists' views on top-level grouping of Afroasiatic. --JWB (talk) 07:01, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
I'm rereading Norman, and he does talk about the wave model; his primary division of Chinese dialects is into Northern, Southern, and a transitional Central zone, which includes Wu, and has received multiple waves of Northern influence. Interestingly his discussion (Chapter 8) is based on 12 cities as major data points, including Kunming, but none in Sichuan. The Yunnan dialect area originated with a Northern Chinese population colonizing a previously non-Chinese-speaking areas, bypassing influence from southern Chinese dialects, and Kunming is still noted for its intelligibility with Beijing. On the other hand, Sichuan has more conservative, less Mandarinized dialects in southwestern Sichuan. Norman has almost no mention of Sichuan; it appears only once in the index. Taking this into account, the situation in Sichuan looks similar to those in Hunan and Jiangxi, but has been glossed over in favor of a contiguous Southwestern Mandarin area because of the obscurity of southwestern Sichuan. --JWB (talk) 23:20, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
Here is machine translation of a table from zh:官话#.E5.88.86.E5.8C.BA.E5.8F.B2:
Partitioning method for a variety of Mandarin, the following is a brief history of the partition:
|1934||North Mandarin , Hua Nanguan if two independent large dialect||"Mandarin" is the first time for Chinese district; contains the current language Jin , Xiang language , Gan|
|1937 - 1948||Northern Mandarin , Mandarin on the river (ie, Southwest Mandarin ), Xiajiang Mandarin (the JAC Mandarin ) for the three separate major dialect||Hunan and Jiangxi language area is set aside, the scope and Mandarin area has been and now Mandarin and Shanxi very close to the range of language areas.|
|1955 - 1981||Mandarin was first merged into a large dialect area. Internal partitions in different ways, a more popular way will be divided into North Mandarin , Northwest Mandarin , Mandarin JAC and the Southwest Mandarin||Mandarin Chinese has since become a major dialect|
|1987 Atlas of Chinese language||Mandarin dialect for a large area, the internal into the Northeast Mandarin , Beijing Mandarin , Jiao-Liao Mandarin , Ji Luguan words , Zhongyuan Mandarin , Lan silver Mandarin , Mandarin JAC and the Southwest Mandarin||Jin Mandarin language was first set aside; 8 Zone to become the most popular Chinese dialect classification of academic|
"Examples of variations"---is it really valid?
FIrst of all, I am not a linguist, but I am Chinese and I received education in China up to year 9, so I assume that it is appropriate for me to state some of my views. I don't think the comparison offered in this section is the most valid one. The "cognate to cognate" translation from Hokkien to Mandarin, in a way, isn't really a valid translation, and I personally think that the translator has the purpose of creating an awkward sentence in mind when doing the translation. If "我家己人"("I myself" in Hokkien) can be translated as "My family's own person", then "我自己个儿“("I myself" in Beijing Mandarin) may as well mean "myself-single-son"! As you can see, a sentence in Mandarin can also be subject to such manipulation and become unrecognisable. It is clear that any such word to word interpretation should not be valid. A passage written fully in British slang would produce some comic effect when interpreted with the algorithm for Standard English. Also, "我家己人 有淡薄 无爽快“isn't really meaningless to a Mandarin speaker. "我家己人” clearly contains elements of "I"(我） and "self"（己人） in it, while the meaning of “淡薄”（weak;slight) can be easily extended to serve as a qualification for the degree of something. "无" is also commonly used in Mandarin to indicate negativity, and “爽快” does not merely mean mentally "refreshed"; it can mean physically refreshed, i.e. free of desease. In this way the meaning can be easily formed.18.104.22.168 (talk) 13:15, 22 July 2011 (UTC)
- I agree with this statement as a Southern Chinese who also speaks Mandarin. I can tell you that 家己人 means exactly the same thing as 自己 in putonghua but that the way they pronounce things in Hokkien makes use of the 家 in this case just like Wu would say 自家 to mean the same thing as 自己. In the same way 淡薄 is only an archaic way of saying something is in a slight degree which in putonghua is 一点. 无 is a synonym of 不. So the two phrases
- "我家己人 有淡薄 无爽快" and
- "我自己有一点不舒服" can be paired like this. 我家己人/我自己 有淡薄/有一点 无/不 爽快/舒服.
- So for any Chinese person to read this it might look awkward at first but you'll be able to figure it out in no time. I'll add the Wu to extend the point. 我家己人/我自己/我自家 有淡薄/有一点/有些 无/不/勿 爽快/舒服/舍意.
- This is not to say there isn't something nonsensical to Mandarin in Hokkien but that this wasn't it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 22.214.171.124 (talk) 20:15, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
Chinese switch on zh wiki
Sorry if this is the wrong place to ask this question, but what's the switch called on the Chinese wiki that allows you to view different variants of Chinese? 126.96.36.199 (talk) 14:57, 16 February 2013 (UTC)
- If you mean different regional dialects, they appear as separate languages here on Wikipedia, so check under the tab "其他语言" in the left. There's one for Mandarin, Cantonese and Hakka. On the Mandarin page, you switch between traditional and simplified scripts by clicking on the button on the upper left next to "Article" and "Talk".188.8.131.52 (talk) 11:26, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
Political and cultural-centric POV - CHANGE TITLE
I move that this article be retitled either: "Chinese Dialects", or "Chinese Languages", both phrases actually meaning the same thing. I prefer the latter as it does no carry the implication either of any subordinate status or of any superordinate reality ie it does not align with a nationalist/political framework but with a linguistic one. The phrase "Varieties of Chinese" I find derogatory. It is simply a political POV and therefroe not something that Wiki should tolerate. There is no hard difference between dialects and languages as many article on wiki testify, and "Chinese" is no exception to this fact. LookingGlass (talk) 10:29, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
- It's actually the opposite: the current title is neural, and the two you suggest are not. And BTW, they do not mean the same thing, but opposite things. — kwami (talk) 04:44, 23 February 2013 (UTC)
- Please would you provide some substance to your opinion Kwamikagami? Why do you think that "Chinese languages" is not neutral but "Varieties of Chinese" is? To me "Varieties of Chinese" sounds colonialistic. "Varieties" are variations on a dominant theme. However in some case these langauges/dialects are quite distict things. In any even the term "varieties" is not one that is recognised as far as I am aware in linguistics. LookingGlass (talk) 12:54, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for the reference Keahapana. However there remains a problem in my opinion. Wikipedia is a general purpose encyclopedia, not a specialist one. Especially the titles of articles should therefore use everyday English rather than technical jargon, especially where such jargon is unreferenced outside of the specialist area concerned. Here, for instance, neither Merriam Webster online nor Collins Dictionary and Thesaurus list the meaning "lect" for the word: "variety", so while the term may be technically correct in linguistic circles (contrary to my initial understanding), it is obfuscatory and misleading as nobody outside of that sphere has access to the knowledge of its usse by the discipline (and in a title it cannot be cross-referenced) Using the techincal term seems seems to serves no purpose than the promotion of a POV. This point is seen in the section on classification where it is stated "The difference between Mandarin and other Chinese "dialects" is easily comparable to that between English and its Germanic cousin languages (German, Norwegian, Dutch, Swedish, etc.)". Again, in a non-technical article, it would be absurd to suggest that English, German, Norwegian, Dutch, Swedish, etc. were "varieties" of a macro language. I notice now that the article seems to be based almost entirely upon a 19C work by Samuel Wells Williams, an active US missionary and diplomat. The title seems to me neither to further the development of a non-POV article (ie one that separates it from or makes clear its political and cultural aspect) nor to assist the general reader in quickly understanding the subject of the article. The whole promotes a the political aspect of language classification. LookingGlass (talk) 19:46, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
"In addition, while speaking similar dialect provides very strong group identity at the level of a city or county, the high degree of linguistic diversity limits the amount of group solidarity at larger levels. Finally, the linguistic diversity of southern China makes it likely that in any large group of Chinese, Mandarin will be the only form of speech that everyone understands." I don't really understand this segment at all. This belongs to the "Political issues" section. First, it says "while speaking similar dialect provides very strong group identity at the level of a city or county." I interpret that as speaking similar dialect is a good thing then the next clause is about linguistic diversity is bad. While something is good, something else is bad. I have no idea why the 2 totally different ideas are connected with a comma in the same sentence? Plus the "while" conjunction is not even being used correctly. The sentence simply doesn't make any sense. Second, "Finally, the linguistic diversity of southern China makes it likely that in any large group of Chinese, Mandarin will be the only form of speech that everyone understands," how is that a political issue? The second sentence shows the benefits of knowing Mandarin (I believe the Mandarin in this context means the same as "Standard Chinese" language) so why is it in the "Political issues" section? Come on, Wikipedia is only this good??184.108.40.206 (talk) 08:12, 7 December 2013 (UTC)