See below for your chance at glory in the big smackdown: Jin Chinese vs Jìnshǎn Mandarin.
Language, or dialect?
Jin Chinese is right at the heart of the never-ending fangyan / language / dialect debate (e.g. here or here or here on Sinoglot). Jin is categorized by some as a top level fangyan (方言) in its own right, comparable to Mandarin, Cantonese, etc., while others insist Jin belongs under the broad wing of Mandarin where it should be classified as a sub-fangyan (次方言), parallel to, say, the Northeast dialect or Beijing dialect.
The location of Jin speakers makes the whole debate even more intriguing: they’re right next to Beijing, practically!
So is it true that the folks just west of Beijing are speaking an entirely different language?
Well, why take anyone else’s word for it? Go empirical! Head over to Phonemica and take a listen to some childhood stories from Plum (梅子), Phonemica’s first-ever Jin speaker.
The aforementioned chance at glory lies in understanding Plum’s speech thoroughly enough to propose a title for her recording. If you think of a title, please go to the Phonemica blog post to propose it.
More general Jin comments can go below. For the record, Phonemica is going to leave Jin out of the top level and treat it as Jìnshǎn Mandarin, although given how tough I find it to understand this recording, it’s a decision I may yet rue. After you have a listen, feel free to weigh in on the “intelligibility” part of Jin language / dialect classification, pro or con.