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14 Shanghainese selected for dialect recording

AS putonghua or Mandarin is eclipsing Shanghai dialect at school and in workplace, the city felt the need to preserve its unique tongue for posterity. Yesterday it selected 14 native Shanghai dialect speakers for recording.

The candidates were chosen on the merits of their pure accent and idiomatic expressions out of more than 450 applicants through rigorous screening and face-to-face interview with language experts.

"The speakers must be articulate in speech and have a rich vocabulary and deep understanding of local culture," said You Rujie, one of the experts and a language professor from Fudan University.

In yesterday's interviews, the candidates were asked to pronounce Chinese characters in Shanghai dialect and narrate an Aesop's fable, "The North Wind and the Sun," in both Mandarin and Shanghai dialect.

You said many young people couldn't speak genuine Shanghai dialect or often pronounce some words in a wrong tone. This shows the strong influence of Mandarin.

Chen Hong, a volunteer candidate and a human resources director with a five-star hotel, said "My kid cannot speak Shanghai dialect now. So I want to join the city's effort to protect the dialect."

He enjoys chatting with friends and colleagues in Shanghai dialect but talks in the official language of Mandarin at work. He complained good-quality comedies in local dialect are getting scarce and he hoped the initiative can help save the dialect.

"Language changes with time," said Xue Mingyang, deputy director of Shanghai Education Commission. "Shanghai dialect will not disappear as long as there are Shanghainese, but change in the language is inevitable."

Similar interviews will be held in 10 suburban recruitment sites with the time for application ends tomorrow. Each site has registered more than 30 applicants.

All candidates must be born between 1940 and 1980 in the city by Shanghai-native parents and have grown up in the city. Their spouses must also be Shanghai natives.


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