Re: Thinking about moving to Chengdu – Questions

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I suppose there are pros and cons. But would you say that living in Sichuan would be harmful when it comes to learning Mandarin or would it simply ”color” my language in a certain way? Can a person with a Sichuan dialect speak to a person who uses Putonghua (spelling?) or are the differences too great? Or maybe more directly asked: Do you have any issues talking in Mandarin with people from other parts of the country because of the influence from living in Sichuan?

It will color your Mandarin if you don’t go out of your way to prevent that from happening. Some foreigners who’ve learned Chinese in Chengdu (or Chongqing) come out speaking straight Sichuan dialect by interacting with people in teahouses, taxi cabs or other places where Sichuan dialect is more common than Mandarin. If you speak Sichuan dialect people can understand you, but will make certain assumptions about you. It’s like if you speak with a Southern (Louisiana or South Carolina) accent in the US. If you speak Sichuan dialect in Sichuan though, people will open up to you and give you respect immediately.

I’ve gone out of my way to learn and speak Mandarin, so I don’t have any problems communicating with Chinese people from other regions. The only downside of that is that in Chengdu I don’t get extra props from locals for speaking their local dialect. No big deal though, I never had much particular interest in learning Sichuanhua and I was always more drawn to Mandarin.