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March 25, 2011

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Non-local workers' interest in city dialect

YOUNG and middle-aged non-locals are the groups most eager to study Shanghai's dialect, according to a survey released yesterday.

On average, about 40 percent of non-locals are interested in learning the Shanghai dialect, but in people aged between 25 and 50, the figure jumps to 70 percent.

However, only about 30 percent of the 300 non-locals interviewed can speak the dialect.

"Young and middle-aged people need to learn Shanghai dialect for their work," said You Rujie, a professor of Chinese Department of Chinese Language and Literature at Fudan University, and a researcher in the survey.

Retired seniors and children have fewer work and socializing needs, which explains why there is less interest among those groups.

However, apart from working as a communication tool, learning Shanghai dialect - an integral part of local culture - helps non-locals integrate, he said.

The city yesterday launched a campaign to record the Shanghai dialect in order to protect and promote the local linguistic heritage.

Locals born between 1941 and 1950 or between 1971 and 1980 are invited to volunteer and have their voices recorded for posterity.

For the project, the language working committee has divided the city into 12 areas with distinctive accents.

Ideally, researchers would like volunteers to have been born, grown up and live in the same area.

But as many downtown people have moved to the suburban area, people born downtown but who moved to the suburbs after the 1990s also qualify.

Apart from the audio database to preserve the original dialect, experts will also record local culture and customs.


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