Shanghainese is a dialect of Wu spoken by about 14 million people in Shanghai. There are also many Shanghainese speakers in Hong Kong. There is no standard written form of Shanghainese and it rarely appears in writing. Though the language is the everyday spoken language of Shanghai, it isn't used in education and is only occasionally heard on local radio stations.
The Common Chinese Language movement was started by Shanghai intellectuals and writers during the early 20th century to create a common vernacular medium for national communication. Mandarin was selected as the base, due to the large number of Mandarin speakers in China and its relative simplicity. The bulk of vernacular Mandarin Chinese literature were written not by native Mandarin speakers but by native Wu and Shanghainese speakers. As result, a lot of today's Mandarin Chinese vocabulary comes from Wu Chinese via these literary works. The words and usages have become so well adapted into Standard Mandarin that most speakers assume they are indigenous to Mandarin rather than being cognates of Shanghainese.
What the early Shanghainese proponents for a common Chinese language did not anticipate was that Standard Mandarin's promotion would be handled through the simultaneous oppression of all other Chinese regionalects, and most harshly on Wu and Shanghainese.
Recently Shanghainese has become popular in Shanghai's underground music scene as something that challenges the dominance of Mandarin and Cantonese in music.
The normal tone is not marked, eg bin, the long tone is marked with an h or r, eg chih, and the short tone is marked with a q, eg zaq.
Nyin nyin sen r yeuzy, lah nyietsen thehtsy jioeli zaon ihlih binten. I lah yeu lisin thehtsy liansin, bin in i shiondi kuaeci geh tsinzen sian tede.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Online Shanghainese lessons
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Page last modified: 26.05.21
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