Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Manda--wha?


 So in today's installment of Journey to the Middle Kingdom, our three heroes saved an old woman who had clearly been working pretty hard out in the fields. We know Michelle and Sabrina are going to have to rely on Jason to communicate with people in the world around them, but it looks like even Jason is having problems!

 

Jason lived in Qingdao, China until he was 8 years old, then moved to Oregon with his family. Qingdao is in the north, and Jason's parents and grandparents speak Mandarin Chinese to him at home. So what IS Mandarin Chinese, and why did Jason have a hard time figuring out what the old lady meant?

English has dialects. People who live in Great Britain speak English, people in Canada speak English, Australians, Americans, the list goes on and on. However, if you've seen British movies you'll know that even though it's the same language, there are some key differences. Sometimes these differences are small. I bet most Americans can watch the series "Sherlock" and have no problems understanding. Sometimes the differences make it difficult for one speaker to understand another. The movie "Chappie" takes place in South Africa, and the Afrikaans accented English is so difficult for an American audience they needed subtitles!

Amazon.com: Sherlock: Season 2: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman,  Rupert Graves: Movies & TV
Love the cute British accents

Just like the English language, the Chinese language has dialects. Some are close to each other and others are practically different languages. Mandarin Chinese is the standard dialect. If you turn on the TV and listen to the national news, you'll hear Mandarin. It's used in schools, official communication, television, etc. Most Chinese people speak Mandarin. It's their native language, or they learn it in school or by moving to an area where it's spoken widely. For many areas, though, people know the local dialect which is the language they speak with friends, family, and other locals.