In the 1990s speaking Shanghainese
was looked down upon and banned in schools in favor of standard Mandarin. Starting this week, the Shanghai government begins work with Chinese
linguists to build and preserve a database of the city’s local language.
The team is picking out “pure” speakers of Shanghainese to impart local legends, chat about traditions and even sing local operas, all on tape so that future generations will have a record of the language, reports to Xinhua.
The two-year project, the third attempt in the city, is part of a larger project across China
to preserve as many local dialect
s as possible as the country’s linguistic diversity declines.
Similar initiatives have already been completed in Jiangsu and Yunnan provinces. Yunnan is home to 25 ethnic groups other than Han Chinese, each with their own language. China has more than 80 languages and an unaccounted number of local dialects.
The Shanghai government will set up 12 stations around the city to collect Shanghainese, said Li Yuming, a senior official with the Ministry of Education.