What makes dialects in South China much more diverse than in the North?

by Haoqiu Zhang

Yesterday on the way to the supermarket, my friend and I talked about our hometown and dialects. It seems to be the right and typical time to get a little bit homesick seeing that many of our other friends have already flown back home.

My friend is from Heilongjiang province in the northern part of China and I am from Jiangsu province in the south. After exchanging ideas, we surprisingly find something we had never paid attention to. She said a sentence in her hometown dialect. But I could barely find its difference from Mandarin except the change in the tones of the words. So I had to ask her, “that’s it”? “That’s it!” She replied without hesitation. She added that the dialects in the whole northern region in China sound almost the same, just with slight difference in tones or intonation from Mandarin. Therefore, it would not be a problem for people to understand northern dialect so long as they can understand Mandarin. So the northern dialect seems quite monotonous and dull.

Continue reading “What makes dialects in South China much more diverse than in the North?”

Mommy’s vernacular: A larval language, informal, akin to rumblings?

Samuel Marticotte :

Today, I would like to discuss the status of standard French in Quebec. I have always been aware that there was a standard spoken French that had more status than the one I spoke on the north-shore of Quebec. This is notably the case for all speakers of regions as Quebecers usually put emphasis on the difference between what they call regions (Gaspésie, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, and other regions) and “les grands centres” metropolitan areas/big cities, referring to Quebec or Montreal.

Current standard French is closely associated with the language of French literature (not Quebec Literature), the variety taught in schools, and the variety used by broadcasters, also called “Radio Canada dialect”, a variety close to the language spoken in Quebec City. As in other societies, standard Quebec French is the language of  people with high-status and has overt prestige, as we are more likely to hear judges, lawyers, officials, politicians, business men and other people with high-status use it than working-class people in regions or the city.

Continue reading “Mommy’s vernacular: A larval language, informal, akin to rumblings?”

My accent is obviously not British or Australian!

Hi, my name is Samuel Marticotte.

I grew up in on the north-shore of Quebec, speaking French in an area where it is spoken by over 90% of the population. As I grew up, I picked up some English in school, in video games, on the internet, but only really learned it later when I started working in the navy in Halifax, N-S and Victoria, B-C. After a year of software engineering, I stopped my studies to go to Japan, where I became somewhat fluent in Japanese over the course of nine months; travelling, working in a restaurant and helping an elderly woman with her farm work. When I came back to university, I changed program for one in which I could study two modern languages. I decided to keep studying Japanese and chose Russian as a second language. On my second year, I did a nine-month exchange program in Russia where I had the occasion to improve my reading and listening abilities. Upon my return I was not perfectly fluent orally, but I could read novels and translate literature from French or English. Upon completion of my B.A and certificate in Russian Studies, I was chosen to participate in the JET program. I left for Japan and taught in an elementary school for two years. In Japan, I worked in Japanese, every week explaining to my coworkers lesson plans, and engaged with friends and the local community, sometimes in the local dialect (Kansai-ben), sometimes in standard “Tokyo” Japanese, a more polite variety of the language. When I returned to Canada, I moved to Montreal and started the M.A. in second language education I’m actually in. Being at McGill is an interesting experience, because it is my first long-term experience in an “English community” in Canada.

Continue reading “My accent is obviously not British or Australian!”