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May 30, 2011

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Local Mandarin to be preserved

MANDARIN spoken with a Shanghai accent - which confuses many non-locals and is mocked by some standard speakers - is to be recorded for posterity by language experts.

This is part of an initiative to record and protect local dialects, the Shanghai Language Committee Office said yesterday.

Among characteristics of city residents' distinctive take on Putonghua is that an 'h' paired with another consonant is sometimes omitted.

Cabbies are sometimes baffled when a passenger asks to go to "Hengshan Road" in downtown, as they know it as "Hensan Road.'

Further scope for confusion arises as "chi fan" - to eat a meal - is pronounced "ci fan" in Shanghai Mandarin, which means sticky rice in standard Mandarin. Other traits see "shi" pronounced as "si" and "ling" as "lin."

"Shanghai-accented Putonghua has been influential in the city," said Zhang Ripei, an official with the office.

Mandarin with a Shanghai accent is different to Shanghaihua - the city's own dialect.


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