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January 20, 2012

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Airline to broadcast about city in Shanghai dialect

Shanghai Airlines on Sunday will start broadcasts about the city in Shanghai dialect in selected planes and cover all of its flights landing in the city by the end of the year, the airline said yesterday.

The dialect will be heard on six flights returning to Shanghai from Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Taipei, Hong Kong and Macau starting Sunday, Yu Qinglian, deputy manager of Cabin Service Department of the airline, said yesterday.

Passengers can hear attendants speaking Shanghai dialect 30 minutes before landing: "Welcome to Shanghai, the east metropolis established in 1843. You can go shopping in Huaihai and Nanjing roads as well as eat traditional Shanghai food in Yuyuan Garden."

The normal safety introductions and the service language will remain in English and Mandarin, Yu said. The decision was supported by most of the public, especially local residents. The announcement has been retweeted for more than 1,200 times on the Shanghai government's official microblog.

But some people questioned the move. "The Shanghai residents do not need to listen to the introduction, while the out-of-towners cannot understand," said Huang Yizhou, a local white-collar worker who preferred broadcast in English and Mandarin.

Some also said that if all the Chinese provinces used their own dialects on passenger planes, the country's broadcast in the air would become confusing.

"The new service was mainly to create an atmosphere in the cabin to let passengers from both Shanghai and other provinces feel they are coming to the city," said a press official with the airline surnamed Xia.

Local travelers, especially those who have taken a long voyage abroad, will feel warm when returning to their hometown upon hearing the Shanghai dialect, he added.

The airline, a division of Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines, launched training among some of its local crew members on the dialect. Many under 25 could not speak a lot of phrases correctly at the beginning, Xia said.

Calls for more Shanghai dialect in public places have been rising in the city over concerns the language could die out.


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