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Learn Mandarin Chinese and the Beijing Dialect

Mar. 24, 2015
According to the official standards set by the People’s Republic of China, standard Mandarin Chinese uses:
The phonology or sound system of Beijing. A distinction should be made between the sound system of a dialect or language and the actual pronunciation of words in it. The pronunciations of words chosen for standard Mandarin Chinese do not necessarily reproduce those of the Beijing dialect. The pronunciation of words depends on the standardization and occasional standardization differences (not accents) do exist, between putonghua and guoyu, for example.
In fluent speech, Chinese speakers can easily tell the difference between a speaker of the Beijing dialect and a speaker of standard Mandarin Chinese. Beijingers speak standard Mandarin Chinese with elements of their own dialect in the same way as other speakers.
The vocabulary of Mandarin Chinese dialects, in general, excludes all slang and other elements deemed “regionalisms”. In addition, the vocabulary of all Chinese dialects, especially in more technical fields like science, law, and government, are very similar. (This is similar to the profusion of Latin and Greek words in European languages.) This means that much of the vocabulary of standardized Mandarin Chinese is shared with all varieties of Chinese. In other words, slang as well as many colloquial words found in the Beijing dialect are not found in standard Mandarin Chinese, and may not be understood by people who are not from Beijing.
The grammar and diction of exemplary modern Chinese literature, such as the work of Lu Xun, collectively are known as “Vernacular Chinese”. Vernacular Chinese, the standard written form of modern Chinese, is in turn based loosely upon a mixture of northern (predominant), southern, and classical grammar and diction. This gives formal standard Mandarin Chinese a slightly different feel from that of the common Beijing dialect.
An example of standard Mandarin Chinese versus the Beijing dialect would be: standard men (door) compared with Beijing pronunciation, menr.
In theory the People’s Republic of China defines standard Mandarin Chinese differently, though in reality the differences are minor and are concentrated mostly in the tones of a small minority of words.
Although Chinese speakers make a clear distinction between standard Mandarin Chinese and the Beijing dialect, there are aspects of the Beijing dialect that have made it into the official standard. Standard Mandarin Chinese has a distinction between the polite and informal versions of “you” that comes from the Beijing dialect. In addition, there is a distinction between “zánmen” (we including the listener) and “wŏmen” (we not including the listener). In practice, neither distinction is commonly used by most Chinese.

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