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漢藏緬語々言研究ㄟ博客
a sinotibetoburman linguistics blog
2015-03-01

Shanghai Dialect For Foreigners books - learning

I swear I'd already written a review of this on an earlier version of the site back in 2007, but now I can't seem to find it. So this is actually the second time I'm reviewing this book. Let's get right to it.

Shanghai Dialect for Foreigners is a great way to get into Shanghainese if you're comfortable with IPA and don't need too much help with tones.

The following is a quick sample of some of the dialogue to give an idea of the transcription:

    A: 侬好!
    noŋ hɔ!

    B: 侬早!我来撘浓介绍,搿为是王先生。
    noŋ ʦɔ! ŋu le təˀ noŋ ʨia zɔ, gəˀ ɦue zɿ ɦuaŋ ɕi saŋ.

    A: 侬好,王先生,我姓李。
    noŋ hɔ, ɦuaŋ ɕi saŋ, ŋu ɕiŋ li.

    C: 侬好,李先生。
    noŋ hɔ, li ɕi saŋ.

If you're comfortable with that, and with the non-standardness of the IPA, then you'll be fine. The book also comes with a CD of the dialogues, and the audio quality is tolerable. That's a major plus over the many phrasebooks you'll find which lack audio.

But as I mentioned above, you're not going to get much help with tones. This is actually pretty problematic unless you're really out there pounding the pavement talking to people in your daily life. Tone contours are not described, and not provided for vocabulary within a given lesson. This means you basically have to sort it out yourself.

That's not entirely a problem since you do know a few important features from the transcription; entering tone syllables are marked and voicing distinctions are given, and with only 5 tones in Shanghainese, it's not actually impossible to figure out which is which to some degree just based on the pronunciation. And since Shanghainese is basically a pitch-accent system rather than a strictly tonal one, you can get by.

Description of pronunciation is thorough, which is nice for those less comfortable with IPA.

This is actually one of the very first books I picked up on Shanghainese when I started my collection.

As an added bonus, rumour has it you can find a bootleg pdf online if you dig around a little bit, not that I condone that sort of thing.

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    ★★★★★

    Title:Shanghai Dialect For Foreigners
    外国人学上海话
    Author:Xú Ziliàng
    徐子亮
    Publisher: Shanghai Haiwen Audio-Video Publishers
    上海海文音像出版社

    Shanghainese

    About

    A semi-academic linguistics blog about Sinotibetan, previously focused primarily on Wú, a Sinitic language spoken in the Yangtze Delta region. Topics now include historical linguistics, documentation, language rights, sociolinguistics and learning materials, as well as acting as the dev blog for Phonemica from time to time.

    I'm a linguist based in Asia, working on documentation and historical development of Sinotibetan. In addition to academic research, I'm heavily involved in Phonemica, an organisation that promotes crowd-sourced preservation of local languages.

    I'm currently in the field, so getting in touch isn't easy. However you can try to email me at the following address and I'll respond as soon as I'm able:

    yhilan.ko@gmail.com
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