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City dialect to be subject of survey
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08:56, December 18, 2007

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The local dialect spoken by 18 million residents of the city will be the main focus of a national survey to be conducted early next year.

The survey, the third of its kind, will also include the use of other Chinese dialects spoken by minority groups.

Li Yuming, deputy director of the State language affairs committee, told a seminar over the weekend that efforts are being made to protect some dialects that are on the verge of extinction.

As people from different parts of China speak Putonghua in varying accents, the study will also seek to find out the influence local dialects have on the official language.

According to the committee, a language database will be set up on completion of the survey. Researchers will use video machines to record the sounds and facial expressions of dialect speakers, which will then be analyzed and put into the database.

The Shanghai dialect is being highlighted as it is one of the most popular.

As more and more young people in Shanghai use the dialect to communicate online, and as its vocabulary expands, it will be standardized and promoted as a distinct local language.

Qian Nairong, a professor at the Chinese language department of Shanghai University said the dialect uses a system based on speech sounds and is very similar to the one used for pinyin. The Shanghai dialect has about 15,000 words.

Qian said the system will first be used in online communications and after a trial period, people will be able to download the software free from the Internet.

Source: China Daily

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