Dialects & Kong Qingdong
It’s hard to research 方言. You want to talk to someone from outside Yangzhou about their 语言, about whether or not it’s 吴语. The term 吴语 inevitably causes confusion, and so you specify, but not by using the one thing you know would get to the point most quickly. You know you could just rephrase it as 吴方言 and that’d make things perfectly clear. But you resent the term 方言. So you say, “No, you know, 吴国的语言” but of course that doesn’t help either. “上海话，苏州话，温州话等。都是吴语” you say. “Ohhh. You mean 吴方言!” your interlocutor says.
So you give in. Maybe you argue that 方言 can be 语言 too. You tell him that in Tang times, 维语 was called a 方言, and that at times even English was called 方言 in official texts. But probably you don’t. Probably you just accept it and move on, knowing from experience that there’s little point in arguing this point.
And really there’s probably not. Maybe it’s your fault, coming from a Western context and all the baggage that “dialect” entails. Maybe it’s that you think 方言 means “dialect” to begin with, when you should probably just get over that too. But you’re a stubborn and often confrontational sort of person. A slow learner too, it turns out.
So all hell breaks loose about whether Hong Kongers need to speak Mandarin and if Mainlanders need to bother with Cantonese in Hong Kong. people are called dogs, other people call themselves monks. Kong Qidong, thanks in large part to himself, becomes a target of scorn once again. This is a brief bit of dialogue between him and some lady with strong eyebrows who otherwise isn’t important enough to warrant her name on the screen.
Two sides argue their own points, but here we see the argument in two different languages. Teacher Kong, what do you make of this issue?
Two different languages. This detail you mention is quite important. Two different languages: One is Standard Mandarin, one is fangyan/dialect/regiolect.
Those who speak Mandarin, they have no duty, no responsibility, to understand/use any fangyan.
Chinese people have a duty to speak Standard Mandarin. You have no duty to speak regional speech.
The video, with English subtitles, was put up on China Hush last week. The subtitles can be a little misleading, as they read “any other dialects” implying Mandarin is one. But he never says that. I kept thinking he would. As I said, slow learner.
In fact he consistently uses words appropriate to distinguish the standard speech (话) from the local (方) speech. In that section the only time he called topolects anything other than 方言 was at the end where he said 别的地方的话, “other places’ way of speaking”. The very phrase is exclusionary.
Putonghua, fangyan. Fangyan speakers (which is actually every single person in China, at least at home, I’d imagine) beware.
I don’t know Kong Qidong. I don’t really care to, though we could totally rock matching red scarves as we held hands and skipped down the streets of Xicheng. I don’t know what he thinks about whether China has many languages or one language with unintelligible dialects. I’d guess it’s the latter. Actually I’d bet huge sums of money on it. Ah well. 公说公有理，婆说婆有理。
So you continue trying to defend the 方言 to you friends. Once more you find yourself trying to explain your very English train of thought with pieced together word-by-word translations. Fortunately for you, your friends are very patient people.
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note: The translation for the chengyu in the transcript is crap. I’ve tried to have it make sense, since it’s now removed from the longer paragraph that the host delivered.