China Daily just published another one of my columns in the paper and on their WeChat official account. It’s titled Local dialect is language from the heart, and here’s an excerpt from the piece:
My husband’s late grandmother, who had lived her entire life in the family’s rural Zhejiang village, was known for her feisty sense of humor, her nimble hands that could knit beautiful hats and scarves, and her homemade fried rice noodles, which were so delicious you could forgive her for adding a little too much salt.
But for years, I struggled to know her because she only spoke the local language.
Anyone familiar with this region of East China knows it is a land rich in dialects, which can differ greatly among neighboring counties.
The most notable example in Zhejiang province is Wenzhounese, considered the least comprehensible Chinese dialect, which is why China used it for communications during World War II.
While grandma’s local dialect wasn’t nearly that divergent from the Mandarin Chinese I had learned, the distinctions were enough to make understanding her a challenge.
Despite that, for years I had shrugged off the possibility of learning the dialect.
You can read the full column online — and if you like it, share it!
Additionally, if you’re fascinated by this topic, take a look at the blog post that inspired the column: To learn dialect or not? When your Chinese family doesn’t speak Mandarin Chinese