Foreigners using Regionalisms?

July 07, 2009, 03:30 PM posted in General Discussion

Do Chinese look down at/feel insulted by foreigners using regionalisms when speaking Mandarin or speaking with a regional accent?

I'm not a native speaker of English, but I have a rather thick Irish accent (too much listening to RTE? I have no clue) - and it seems that, on occasion, someone is offended by that, which made me wonder whether the same thing might happen in China if you overdo the 儿化 or use words favoured in other regions.

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July 07, 2009, 06:17 PM

zarai, I can't give you a definitive answer on question of whether or not Chinese look down upon (看不起)foreigners using regionalisms.  However, I've never felt that anyone felt insulted unless it was considered vulgar.

In my experience the great majority of Chinese grant wide latitude to foreigners speaking Chinese.  I learned most of my Chinese via mimicry, so I've picked up a hodpodge of these.  Most of the time, I get a gentle correction, or a,"We don't say it like that in _________."  However, the flip side of that is that you get a lot of kudos if you use regional slang/dialect.  

So my advice is screw the Mandarin nazis and mix it all up.  That's what the Chinese do.

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July 08, 2009, 05:16 AM

@Zarai To be honest I think when foriegners overdo the 'erhua' their accents just sound forced and a little silly. Same goes for non-northern Chinese tv personalities when they affect the 'erhua' if they are talking to northerners.

As for foreigners with regional accents, it actually makes our Chinese seem more authentic to Chinese people. Out of habit (due to extended exposure to my wife's local patois) my speech is about 30% North-East Anhui 'dialect' with a healthy smattering of the same region's 土话 (Peasant speech).

If one tries too hard with any type of affectation, there is always the chance of offending someone or simply sounding silly.

I wouldn't worry too much about sounding silly as we all sound goofy when learning a new language - its part of the process.