Shanghainese

Shanghainese
上海話 / 上海话 Zaanhehho
上海閒話/上海闲话 Zaanheh-hehho
滬語 / 沪语 Hu nyy
Pronunciation [z̥ɑ̃̀héɦɛ̀ɦʊ̀], [ɦùɲý]
Native to China, overseas communities
Region City of Shanghai and surrounding Yangtze River Delta
Ethnicity Shanghainese people
Language codes
ISO 639-3
ISO 639-6 suji
wuu-sha
Glottolog shan1293  Shanghainese [1]
Linguasphere 79-AAA-dbb >
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Shanghainese language
Simplified Chinese 上海话
Traditional Chinese 上海話
Shanghainese
Romanization
Zaanhehho
[z̥ɑ̃̀héɦʊ̀]
Literal meaning Shanghai language
Shanghainese
Simplified Chinese 上海闲话
Traditional Chinese 上海閒話
Shanghainese
Romanization
Shanghe Hhehho
[z̥ɑ̃̀hé ɦɛ̀ɦʊ̀]
Literal meaning Shanghai speech
Hu language
Simplified Chinese 沪语
Traditional Chinese 滬語
Shanghainese
Romanization
[ɦuɲy]
Literal meaning Hu (Shanghai) language

The Shanghainese language, also known as the Shanghai dialect, Hu language or Hu dialect, is a variety of Wu Chinese spoken in the central districts of the City of Shanghai and its surrounding areas. It is classified as part of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Shanghainese, like other Wu variants, is mutually unintelligible with other varieties of Chinese outside the Wu region such as Mandarin, sharing just 29% lexical similarity with the Mandarin heard in Beijing.[ citation needed]

In English, "Shanghainese" sometimes refers to all Wu languages, variants and dialects, although they are only partially intelligible with one another. Shanghainese proper is a representative language of Taihu Wu; it contains vocabulary and expressions from the entire Taihu Wu area of southern Jiangsu and northern Zhejiang. With nearly 14 million speakers, Shanghainese is also the largest single form of Wu Chinese. It serves as the lingua franca of the entire Yangtze River Delta region.

Shanghainese is rich in vowels [i y ɪ ʏ ei ø ɛ ə ɐ a ɑ ɔ ɤɯ o ʊ u] (twelve of which are phonemic) and in consonants. Like other Taihu Wu dialects, Shanghainese has voiced initials [b d ɡ ɦ z v dʑ ʑ]: neither Cantonese nor Mandarin has voiced initial stops or affricates. The Shanghainese tonal system is also significantly different from other Chinese varieties, sharing more similarities with the Japanese pitch accent, with two level tonal contrasts (high and low), whereas Cantonese and Mandarin are typical of contour tonal languages.

History

Shanghai did not become a regional center of commerce until it was opened to foreign investment during the late Qing dynasty. Consequently, languages and dialects spoken around Shanghai had long been subordinate to those spoken around Jiaxing and later Suzhounese. In the late 19th century, most vocabulary of the Shanghai area had been a hybrid between Southern Jiangsu and Ningbonese. [2] Since the 1850s, owing to the growth of Shanghai's economy, Shanghainese has become one of the fastest-developing languages of the Wu Chinese subgroup, undergoing rapid changes and quickly replacing Suzhounese as the prestige dialect of the Yangtze River Delta region. It underwent sustained growth that reached a hiatus in the 1930s during the Republican era, when migrants arrived in Shanghai and immersed themselves in the local tongue.

After 1949, the government imposed Mandarin (Putonghua) as the official language of the whole nation of China. The dominance and influence of Shanghainese began to wane slightly. Since Chinese economic reform began in 1978, especially, Shanghai became home to a great number of migrants from all over the country. Due to the national prominence of Mandarin, learning Shanghainese was no longer necessary for migrants, because those educated after the 1950s could generally communicate in Mandarin. However, Shanghainese remained a vital part of the city's culture and retained its prestige status within the local population. In the 1990s, it was still common for local radio and television broadcasts to be in Shanghainese. In 1995, the TV series Sinful Debt featured extensive Shanghainese dialogue; when it was broadcast outside Shanghai (mainly in adjacent Wu-speaking provinces) Mandarin subtitles were added. The Shanghainese TV series Lao Niang Jiu (Old Uncle) was broadcast from 1995 to 2007 [3] and was popular among Shanghainese residents. Shanghainese programming has since slowly declined amid regionalist/localist accusations.

From 1992 onward, Shanghainese use was discouraged in schools, [4] and many children native to Shanghai can no longer speak Shanghainese. [5] In addition, Shanghai's emergence as a cosmopolitan global city consolidated the status of Mandarin as the standard language of business and services, at the expense of the local language. [2]

Since 2005, new movements have emerged to protect Shanghainese from fading away. At municipal legislative discussions in 2005, former Shanghai opera actress Ma Lili moved to "protect" the language, stating that she was one of the few remaining Shanghai opera actresses who still retained authentic classic Shanghainese pronunciation in their performances. Shanghai's former party boss Chen Liangyu, a native Shanghainese himself, reportedly supported her proposal. [2] There have been talks of re-integrating Shanghainese into pre-kindergarten education, because many children are unable to speak any Shanghainese. A citywide program was introduced by the city government's language committee in 2006 to record native speakers of different Shanghainese varieties for archival purposes and, by 2010, many Shanghainese-language programs were running. [6]

The Shanghai government has begun to reverse its course and seek fluent speakers of authentic Shanghainese, but only two out of thirteen recruitment stations have found Traditional Shanghainese speakers; the rest of the 14 million people of Shanghai speak modern Shanghainese,[ clarification needed] and it has been predicted that local variants will be wiped out. Professor Qian Nairong is working on efforts to save the language. [7] [8] In response to criticism, Qian reminds people that Shanghainese was once fashionable, saying, "the popularization of Mandarin doesn't equal the ban of dialects. It doesn't make Mandarin a more civilized language either. Promoting dialects is not a narrow-minded localism, as it has been labeled by some netizens”. [9] The singer and composer Eheart Chen sings many of his songs in Shanghainese instead of Mandarin to preserve the language. [10]

Since 2006, the Modern Baby Kindergarten in Shanghai has prohibited all of its students from speaking anything but Shanghainese on Fridays to preserve the language amongst younger speakers. [11] [12] In 2011, Professor Qian said that the sole remaining speakers of real Shanghainese are a group of Shanghainese peoples over the age of 60 and native citizens who have little outside contact, and he strongly urges that Shanghainese be taught in the regular school system from kindergarten all the way to elementary, saying it is the only way to save Shanghainese, and that attempts to introduce it in university courses and operas are not enough. [13]

Fourteen native Shanghainese speakers had audio recordings made of their Shanghainese on May 31, 2011. They were selected based on accent purity, way of pronunciation and other factors. [14]

Other Languages
Bân-lâm-gú: Siōng-hái-oē
français: Shanghaïen
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Sông-hói-fa
한국어: 상하이어
Bahasa Indonesia: Dialek Shanghai
Nederlands: Shanghainees
日本語: 上海語
português: Dialeto xangainês
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Šangajski dijalekt
吴语: 上海言话
粵語: 上海話
中文: 上海话