Posted by Grace Feng on December 9, 2012
You might wonder “Is this a proper question to ask a learner? How could a learner be able to tell?” Well, as a matter of fact, that is exactly what I intend to do today: To let you, my dear mandarin learner friends, to figure out by yourself whether the mandarin you speak carries the accent of any Chinese regional dialect.
I’m not talking about the accent you carry from your mother tongue, if any. At this time of the century, we probably don’t have big enough samples to generalize accent of spoken mandarin from people of foreign countries or territories. On the contrary, Chinese accent of spoken English is easy to be identified since we already have big enough samples to analyze. :-)
Speaking of accent, I did notice that some non-native mandarin speakers do carry certain accent that resembles certain dialects of China. I think this kind of accent might be developed by the speaker unconsciously from one of the following sources:
- the speaker’s Chinese teacher or tutor;
- the local language environment where the speaker is dwelling if in China;
- speaking habbit of the speaker;
I’m not going to make any judgement on one’s accent. As a matter of fact, almost every Chinese has accent on mandarin. No one lives in “Standard Mandarin” province since there’s no such place in China. Every single province or city in China has a couple, if not many, dialects of its own. That includes Beijing as well. Beijing Hua is also a dialect, though it is close to standard mandarin. For most Chinese natives that do speak mandarin, the only difference between their mandarin is with a lighter accent, or with a heavier accent. Therefore, to pick up a bit accent while you’re learning the language is no big deal in my opinion. To let your spoken mandarin be easily understood by most Chinese should be your ultimate goal.
Given that, to get a feel of the varieties of Chinese dialects is definitely not a bad thing. As a matter of fact, it should be useful and fun to have some exposure to them. Here I collect some short voice samples from online videos that talk in dialects. Each of the sample is labeled under the province where it originated. I need to make it clear that it doesn’t mean that any of these dialects represents the majority of the province’s population. I just collect them here for mandarin learners to have a fun ear test. Go ahead listen to them for a few times. See with the help of the sentence transcript, will you be able to understand them eventually. I also recorded a version in mandarin for each voice sample so you can compare the tone difference between them.
The list will grow once I have time to collect more.
上海话 Shanghai dialect
nǐ kànkan zhè shì shá?
Could you check what exactly it is?
河南话 Henan dialect
nǐ zhège xiǎohái, bùxiǎng dāli nǐ!
You’re such a kid, I don’t want to talk to you!
天津话 Tianjing dialect
rénjiā lǎobǎn jiāogěi de rènwu, jiùshì, yīdìng dé wánchéng.
人家老板交给的任务, 就是, 一定得完成.
It is an assignment from my boss. I must complete it.
四川话 Sichuan dialect
o, zài Běijīng yàoshuō pǔtōnghuà rénjiā cái tīngdedǒng de ma!
Oh, in order to make yourself understool in Beijing you have to speak mandarin.
山东话 Shandong dialect
hàochī bùhǎo chī, guāng shuō hái bùxíng ā, nà dé cháng yīxià!
好吃不好吃, 光说还不行啊, 那得尝一下!
Whether it’s tasty or not, how could we know by talking? Go taste it!
云南话 Yunnan dialect
kuàidiǎnr! jīntiān yuē hǎo de, qù nǐmen xuéxiào xiān kànkan nǐmen xiàozhǎng qù.
快点儿! 今天约好的, 去你们学校先看看你们校长去.
Hurry up! We’ve booked the appointment today. We need to meet your principle in your school.
湖南话 Yunnan dialect
shàngbān yào gǎo shìyè, xiàbān hái yào máng jiāwù; zǎoshang bùnéng qǐ dé wǎn shì wǎnshanghái bùnéng shuì dé zǎo.
When we’re at work, we need to work hard to grow our career. After work we need to deal with loads of housework. We can’t get up late in the morning, we can’t go to bed early in the evening either.
河北话 Hebei dialect
tā yǒu shá jí shì nàme zháojí ā?
Why is he in such a hurry?
You can look up the name of each province in the map below so you know which area the province is located in.
Category: Chinese speaking practice
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