Sichuan Mandarin


Sichuan Mandarin

The Sichuan dialect, otherwise referred to as Sichuanese (formerly written Szechwanese) (zh-stpw|s=四川话|t=四川話|p=Sìchuānhuà|w=Szŭ4-ch'uan1-hua4, Sichuanese: ʂːtsʰuən‘huaː), is a dialect of southwestern Mandarin Chinese, spoken predominantly in Sichuan and Chongqing municipality, which was historically part of the province, and other parts of southwestern China.

The dialect is substantially identical to dialects spoken in the neighboring provinces Guizhou and Yunnan. In addition, due to Tibet's proximity to Sichuan, many Tibetans speak Sichuanese, in addition to Tibetan. It is spoken by about 120 million people. If Sichuanese were counted as a separate language, it would be the 10th largest language by number of speakers, just behind Japanese. It is possible, however, to identify significant variations between speakers from different places in the province with various sub-dialects.

History

Like many of the southern provinces in China, Sichuan was fully sinicized by the end of the Tang dynasty.cite book|last = Ramsey|first = S. Robert|title = The Languages of China|publisher = Princeton University Press|date = 1987|location = Princeton, NJ|isbn = 0-691-01468-X] Accordingly, one would expect the variety of Chinese in Sichuan to be linguistically closer to other southern varieties of Chinese, such as Cantonese and Min. Sichuan apprears to be an exception however. In the thirteenth century, the population of Sichuan dropped precipitously, suspected to be due in part to a series of plagues and Mongol invasions. The population did not recover until it was replenished by subsequent migrations of Mandarin speakers from the north in following centuries. The newcomers' dialect largely supplanted the earlier varieties of Chinese in Sichuan. Sichuan, and indeed all of southwestern China, has one of the most uniform dialects in all of Inner China, evidence that the variety of Chinese spoken there formed relatively recently.

ichuan dialect vs. Standard Mandarin

Sichuanese is a southwestern Mandarin dialect. It is typically not difficult for one who knows standard Mandarin to understand a Sichuanese speaker. Sichuanese speakers can generally also communicate with others from parts of Yunnan, Guizhou, and Guangxi provinces without resorting to standard Mandarin.

The dialect is recognizable because of its different tonal characteristics, nasalization, and clipped vowels. Though the four tone categories are the same as those of standard Mandarin, the third and fourth tones of the Sichuan dialect are almost exactly the reverse of the standard Mandarin tones. Like many other Chinese dialects, the retroflex consonants of standard Mandarin are pronounced as fricatives in Sichuan dialect.

Like all other Chinese dialects, the Sichuan dialect has some vernacular spoken words which are not written down in standard Chinese.

It is widely remarked in Sichuan and Chongqing that the Chengdu accent is "softer", and the Chongqing one is "harder", even going so far to say that the Chengdu accent suits women while the Chongqing one suits men. Also, it is joked that one would "rather hear a Chengdu girl rail than hear a Chongqing girl speak."

References


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