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February 18, 2014

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Airport gives Shanghai dialect a new voice

ANNOUNCERS at Pudong International Airport has begun broadcasting greetings messages and some boarding information in the Shanghai dialect, the airport authority said yesterday.

The welcome announcements can be heard by all passengers in Terminals 1 and 2 after those delivered in Mandarin and English, while the local dialect will also be used for boarding information for flights between Shanghai and Hong Kong, it said.

The new system was introduced on a trial basis during the Spring Festival, but might become a regular feature if passengers are in favor of it, an official said.

Meanwhile, Shanghai Airlines said yesterday it too is trying to promote local culture by printing the lyrics to Shanghai-dialect folk songs on its meal boxes.

The new containers, which also offer tips on pronunciation, will be used on all flights from next month, it said.

China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines said they have also begun making broadcasts in the Shanghai dialect on selected flights into the city.

The local tone is used to promote some of the city’s main attractions, though English and Mandarin are still used for key safety messages and service announcements, the airlines said.

On the roads, the operators of the No. 49 bus route, which runs across the downtown area via Nanjing Road and People’s Square, have also introduced the Shanghai dialect for announcements, though not everyone thinks it’s such a good idea.

“Local people don’t need to listen to the announcements, while out-of-towners can’t understand them,” local white-collar worker Huang Yizhou said, adding that the messages should just be delivered in Mandarin and English.

Others said if every province started using its own dialect on airline flights, the communication system would get very confusing.

According to a report by the Shanghai Statistics Bureau, more people in the city speak Mandarin than the local dialect.

The survey of about 1,000 people found that 97 percent could speak Mandarin, while just 81.4 percent could speak the Shanghai dialect. It also found the popularity of the local tongue is diminishing, with fewer young people able to speak it than their older peers.



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