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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chinese is Mandarin?

Some misconceptions I have come across.

Yes, Chinese does not equal Mandarin.  There are other dialects.  But Mandarin is the one that matters for most Learners since its the official language of China.

When I have customers who want that in Chinese, when the word Mandarin comes up they get worried they are buying the right material.

Does Cantonese matter?  For cultural reasons, yes if your famly speaks Cantonese.  For business, Mandarin is the one to learn.  I did stock some Cantonese material, but I found it does not sell.  When I get customer requests for Cantonese material I refer them to a traditional Chinese bookstore in Monterey Park and another in San Franscisco.

Taiwan does speak Mandarin.  I had one person who made the statement that Taiwan does not speak Mandarin.  My comment back was that was news to my wife (who has been complimented by people from China on her Mandarin, as they ask where she is from.  She's from Taiwan).

Some of the other Chinese dialects:

- Cantonese (spoken in HK and Guangzhou)

- Taiwanese (Fukanese).  Becoming more important in Taiwan.  For the longest time Taiwanese was discriminated against by the government.

- Shanghainese (very pretty)

Accents for Mandarin Chinese
Standard Chinese
Beijing Accent - close to standard Chinese, but a little different I am told.
Taiwan Accent - a bit softer than the Beijing Accent

Each of the Chinese dialects use the same type of writing (simplified or Traditional Characters).  Sometimes the grammar is a bit different, for example with Cantonese and Mandarin.

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