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China salvages local dialects as Mandarin prevails

(Xinhua)

08:20, September 07, 2012

DALIAN, Liaoning, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- Nine Dalian residents have been selected from hundreds of candidates to have their genuine Dalian accents recorded for posterity.

The Dalian Municipal Language Committee said the recording of the Dalian accent is part of the construction of the Chinese Language Resources Vocal Database.

Chen Dejing, dean of the administrative office of the committee, said the selected speakers were born in pure local dialect-speaking families between 1941 and 1950 or between 1971 and 1980, and they can speak clearly and intelligently.

Dalian is a port city in northeast Liaoning Province. Throughout history, the Dalian accent has developed under the influences of traditional accents in northeast China and the accent from eastern Shandong Province.

The National Language Committee launched the vocal database-building project in 2008, and has already recorded Mandarin spoken with a Suzhou accent. Recording work on Beijing and Shanghai accents is also underway.

With its vast territory and 56 ethnic groups, China has more than 80 ethnic languages. Chinese people also speak in a variety of different dialects. As standard Mandarin is becoming more and more popularly used in education and social communication, many local dialects have become endangered.

Cao Zhiheng, an expert with the national vocal database project, said the language salvaging work must speed up, as many of the dialects may be extinct in 10-20 years.
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