Article published in:Developments in Diglossic Settings in the Asian Pacific Region
Edited by Marinus van den Berg
[Journal of Asian Pacific Communication 30:1/2] 2020
► pp. 217–254
Dialect and Putonghua in Xi’an city
The case of Beishan Menkou urban village
As one of the industrial centers of Western China, Xi’an is undergoing a process in which surrounding “urban villages” are incorporated into the urban area. This paper reports on the contact situation between the Xi’an dialect of Beishan Menkou “urban village” and Mandarin Chinese. Data collection started with traditional dialect survey methodology which assumes the dialect to be homogeneous and shared across village members. It requires respondents to read a standard list of Chinese characters. The assumption that the dialect is homogeneous is generally agreed upon for older generations but is doubtful for the younger generation who are exposed to modern education and modern life. We therefore stratified the survey across three generations with six informants, a male and female informants for each generation. The results show that the dialect among the two older generations was still homogeneous and shared, whereas the youngest generations showed influence of Putonghua on the dialect. This resulted in a new dialect variant “Dialect with Putonghua features”, which is recognized by urban village members as such. Female respondents generally were conceived of as speaking the New Dialect more clearly than their male counterparts. We also investigated the impact of the dialect on Putonghua and concluded that among the younger generation, a form of “Local Putonghua” developed, whereas the accented forms used by older generations are a variety of intermediate forms of this “Local Putonghua”. The paper further provides details of the changes taking place in the New Dialect in terms of tones, initials and finals, vocabulary and grammar. Words in local Putonghua were also listed.
Keywords: Putonghua varieties, Xi’an dialect, Shaanxi dialects, Henan dialect, language and gender, Chinese language change, New Dialect, Local Putonghua
Published online: 30 June 2020
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