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People's Daily Online>>China Society

'Speak Shanghainese' wins recruits

By Alexander Gladstone  (Shanghai Daily)

14:54, November 23, 2011

Foreign students learn Shanghainese at Tongji University's Shanghai dialect course.

Hu is a local expression for Shanghai, and a new group Hu Cares aims to preserve Shanghai culture, especially colorful dialect, against the waves of "speak Mandarin." It's pressing for all Metro announcements to be in dialect. Alexander Gladstone reports.

As more and more foreigners and people from outside provinces flood into Shanghai, locals are becoming concerned about the potential threat to Shanghai's unique culture and language. In particular, fewer and fewer young people can speak Shanghai dialect, as Mandarin becomes ever more prevalent.

This trend began in 1985, when a law was passed requiring local schools to maintain a strictly Mandarin-language environment at all times, part of a national initiative to promote linguistic unity throughout China's diverse regions.

Linguistic experts have reported that Shanghai dialect shares only an estimated 40 percent correlation with standard Mandarin, and that the language is nearly unintelligible to outsiders hearing it the first time.

Since the language law was passed and duly enforced, and the flood of people from all over China and the rest of the world came into Shanghai, the popularity of Mandarin has gradually increased, while use of the local dialect has gradually decreased.

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