Monday, May 05, 2008

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Occasionally I like to be reminded that what concession-era Shanghailanders knew as "Chinese" was not Mandarin Chinese but Shanghainese. For example, here's an old picture of an orphanage near Xujiahui:

土山湾

The sign bears the name "T'OU-SE-WE ORPHANAGE" which came from the Chinese name 土山湾, literally "Dirt Mountain Bay", a location near the present-day Shanghai Indoor Stadium. But the pinyin for 土山湾 is "Tu Shan Wan". In fact, guessing at its pronunciation T'ou-Se-We is closer to the way those characters would be pronounced in Shanghainese. Cool!

Probably the most commonly seen example of old Shanghainese is "Zikawei", which you may have seen before. This is the Shanghainese for Xujiahui.

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