Dialectal and normative registers in Yangzhou storytelling
Chinese storytelling is inseparably bound up with local dialect. However, normative language also plays a distinctive role in many performance arts. In this paper the interplay of dialectal and normative registers in Yangzhou storytelling (Yangzhou pinghua) is analysed. Audio recordings of storytellers born during the late Qing and Republic demonstrate their subtle handling of linguistic registers: dialogue and narrative are regularly rendered in alternating registers, reflecting local Yangzhou dialect (Yangzhou fangyan), local Mandarin (difang guanhua) and Northern Mandarin (Beifang guanhua). The usage of storytelling registers provides new source material on the Yangzhou variety of difang guanhua. On this background the paper raises the question of the linguistic habits of former storytellers and — tentatively — offers a key to the riddle of the famous Liu Jingting’s (1592–1674) spoken language-in-performance.
Keywords: dialect, register, koiné, local Mandarin, Yangzhou dialect, Yangzhou storytelling
Published online: 21 June 2010