Chinese Dialects


Putonghua is a vital language for us

Putonghua, also known as Mandarin, is the mainland's official language. In Hong Kong, it is the third language all students have to learn as a core subject.

Thursday, 26 July, 2012, 12:00am

Shanghainese welcome bid to revive dialect

When the first television news programme in Shanghainese launched late last month, many Shanghai residents welcomed the broadcast as an overdue jolt of support for a dying dialect.

But linguists and cultural experts say the 20-minute programme, Xin Wen Fang (News Workshop), which airs every Saturday evening, must be accompanied by a broader campaign to revive the dialect.

8 Jul 2012 - 12:00am

Summer of challenges

The summer holidays are a great time for children to focus their energies on an activity to accelerate development and have a great time developing social skills by meeting new friends.

7 Jul 2012 - 12:00am

Teaching Putonghua a learning curve

The effects of the handover came slowly but surely for Hong Kong's teachers, with the biggest challenges rolled out in the education reforms that started in the early 2000s.

29 Jun 2012 - 12:00am

To learn the language, live the culture

When Austrian Andreas Laimbock, 33, came to China in 2002 to learn Putonghua, he ran into a wall of discouraging obstacles. But the hardship proved inspirational, and four years ago he set up the LTL Mandarin School in Beijing to help foreigners master what can at times seem like 'a language from a different planet'.

24 Jun 2012 - 12:00am

'Sexy Mandarin' sets tongues wagging

A new website that offers Mandarin lessons taught by lingerie-clad young women has come under fire from a women's group, which says the practice promotes harmful stereotypes.

Sexy Mandarin, headquartered in Hong Kong and geared towards Western customers who want to improve their grasp of the language, aims to provide lessons 'in a sexy and unconventional way'.

10 Jun 2012 - 12:00am

Schools may be killing dialect

Education officials have been urged to review their policy of using Putonghua to teach Chinese language and literacy in Hong Kong, amid fears that Cantonese is becoming marginalised and is at risk of dying out within generations.

27 May 2012 - 12:00am

Tongues of potential

My husband and I are trying to raise trilingual children, but I'm not sure how well we are doing. I see parents and families doing just that every day, and it all seems so easy as they banter back and forth in different languages.

20 May 2012 - 12:00am

Mark my words

Chinese-language chauvinists take note: Cantonese is anything but a minor southern dialect of only localised importance.

13 May 2012 - 12:00am

Putonghua is child's play

When banker Lee Tau Shen and his wife, Winnie Chong, relocated from Singapore, they were concerned about how their sons would learn Putonghua.

Matthew, six, and Benjamin, three, are still deepening their grasp of their first language, English. In Singapore, they were introduced to Mandarin as a second language.

25 Mar 2012 - 12:00am

A pair of characters

A group of children march into the wet market, chanting slogans and hoisting placards that read 'No to veggies'. Bemused stallholders look on, wondering what the fuss is all about. The youngsters aren't really staging a protest, however - although their aversion to vegetables is genuine. They are, in fact, shooting a music video for I Hate Veggies, an English-Putonghua hip hop song.

25 Mar 2012 - 12:00am

Getting into characters

I remember being surprised, about eight years ago, when the boss of the research agency I worked for suggested that my colleagues and I took Putonghua lessons. At the time, almost nobody in Mumbai thought of anything beyond French or the occasional other European language lesson.

18 Mar 2012 - 12:00am

Chinese moving up beside English

As China rises, a knowledge of Putonghua is being seen as an economic necessity, alongside the ability to speak English, in Southeast Asia.

Bilingualism, though, isn't easy.

Even in the former British colony of Singapore, where over three-quarters of the population is ethnic Chinese, neither English nor Putonghua is the native tongue of many people.

5 Mar 2012 - 12:00am

Big demand for Putonghua tutors

With China poised to become the world's economic leader within the next few decades, the mainland's expanding influence in the international business community is helping to boost the popularity of learning the national language.

3 Mar 2012 - 12:00am

A matter of trust at Withers

Priding itself on its difference from other companies, Withers Hong Kong is the only law firm in the city that places equal focus on wealth and asset preservation, as it does on wealth planning. It has also made significant additions to its Putonghua-speaking team.

3 Mar 2012 - 12:00am