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December 8, 2011

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Home » Metro » Public Services

Dialect on city buses getting a boost

THE city government said yesterday that Shanghai dialect will appear as a complimentary broadcast language on more city buses while trial efforts are already under way.

The announcement came after news that a Pudong New Area bus had already started offering such service, which stirred great public attention and debate.

Bus No. 785 running in Pudong started broadcasting in local dialect on Monday, in addition to Mandarin and English. The broadcasts provide information about coming stops and remind people about boarding safety. Bus No. 785 became the first in town to try the practice. The service was suspended on Tuesday because management found the dialect pronunciation was incorrect.

The city's transport bureau media coordinator, Huang Xiaoyong, confirmed that an improved dialect broadcast was back on the bus yesterday. He said the same service would soon appear on other two bus routes, downtown No. 11 and No. 24 in suburban Songjiang District. "The preparations are under way and in the future, more transit buses will have such service," Huang said.

Meanwhile, the city government announced through its official microblog that it was to promote and support the program to involve more bus routes citywide.

"As some local citizens have suggested, we have officially accepted the idea to provide bus broadcast in Mandarin, English as well as in Shanghai dialect," Huang said. "The market watchdog will select the appropriate routes and gradually promote the program to involve more buses. During the trials, we welcome opinions from the public to improve the services."

City government spokesman Xu Wei also confirmed the new program at a regular government news conference yesterday.

Transport bureau officials said the initiative was triggered by substantial "requests from local passengers" urging the use of Shanghai dialect.

They include a large number of senior local natives, who say they long for dialect broadcasts which would be easier for them to follow since they are less fluent in Mandarin. Others say the city needs to increase the appearance of its local dialect as a way to strengthen efforts to protect and revive its cultural heritage.

Worries about the dialect dying out with fewer and fewer youngsters being able to speak their hometown language have been escalating in recent years. Shanghai is receiving increasing dwellers from out of town and overseas and the atmosphere of original folk cultures appears to be weakening.

The subject of the bus dialect service attracted an overwhelming group of followers who left comments on the city government microblog. By yesterday afternoon, more than 1,000 web users had posted comments. A majority were supportive but there were also opponents who were concerned that information delivered in three languages would be messy due to the short interval between bus stops, and that dialect might cause non-locals to feel culturally alienated.


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