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A short history of written Wu, Part II: Written Shanghainese

Don Snow / Shen Senyao / Zhou Xiayun
Published Online: 2018-09-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/glochi-2018-0011

Abstract

The recent publication of the novel Magnificent Flowers (Fan Hua 繁花) has attracted attention not only because of critical acclaim and market success, but also because of its use of Shanghainese. While Magnificent Flowers is the most notable recent book to make substantial use of Shanghainese, it is not alone, and the recent increase in the number of books that are written partially or even entirely in Shanghainese raises the question of whether written Shanghainese may develop a role in Chinese print culture, especially that of Shanghai and the surrounding region, similar to that attained by written Cantonese in and around Hong Kong.

This study examines the history of written Shanghainese in print culture. Growing out of the older written Suzhounese tradition, during the early decades of the twentieth century a distinctly Shanghainese form of written Wu emerged in the print culture of Shanghai, and Shanghainese continued to play a role in Shanghai’s print culture through the twentieth century, albeit quite a modest one. In the first decade of the twenty-first century Shanghainese began to receive increased public attention and to play a greater role in Shanghai media, and since 2009 there has been an increase in the number of books and other kinds of texts that use Shanghainese and also the degree to which they use it.

This study argues that in important ways this phenomenon does parallel the growing role played by written Cantonese in Hong Kong, but that it also differs in several critical regards. The most important difference is that, to date, written Shanghainese appears almost exclusively in texts that look back to “old Shanghai” and/or to traditional alley life in Shanghai, and that a role of the type written Cantonese has in Hong Kong is not likely to be attained unless or until Shanghainese texts that are associated with modern urban Shanghai life, especially youth culture, begin to appear.

摘要

最近小说《繁花》一书的出版引起了很多人的关注,这不仅是因为该书出版后深受好评,赢得了市场,同时也是因为该书中上海方言的使用。要论大量使用上海方言的作品,《繁花》是最受瞩目的一部,但却不是唯一一部。近年来,在书中部分使用、甚至是全部使用上海话的现象呈上升趋势。这是否意味着在中国印刷文化里,特别是在上海及其附近地区,上海方言可能发展成为书面粤语之于香港那样的角色。

本文研究了印刷文化中上海方言的发展情况。印刷文化中使用上海方言由书面苏州方言的传统发展而来,在 20 世纪的前几十年,以上海话为代表的书面吴语在上海地区的印刷文化作品中大量涌现,直至 20 世纪末,上海方言在印刷文化中依然存在着其影响。在 2000 年至 2010 年期间,上海方言开始受到大量的关注并且在上海媒体中扮演起更重要的角色。自 2009 年起,使用上海方言的书刊及其他文本的数量有所增长,上海方言的使用的比例也有所提高。

本文认为,这一现象与书面粤语在香港日益增长的角色地位是有相似之处的,但同时也有所不同。其中最大的不同在于目前文本中上海方言的出现似乎更多的是为了回顾“老上海”的生活,或者说是旧日胡同巷子里的生活。如果上海方言想要能够扮演香港社会中书面粤语那样的角色,就必须与当代上海的城市生活结合起来,特别是与年轻人的文化相结合。

Keywords: Shanghainese; Wu; literature; dialect; topolect

关键词: 上海话; 吴语; 文学; 方言

References

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About the article

Don Snow

Don Snow (PhD in East Asian Languages and Cultures, Indiana University) has taught language, culture, and linguistics for over two decades in various parts of China, as well as in the United States, and he is currently Director of Language and Culture Center at Duke Kunshan University. His research interests and academic articles focus on sociolinguistic topics such as diglossia and the historical development of written forms of Chinese vernaculars, and Cantonese as Written Language: The Growth of a Written Chinese Vernacular was published by Hong Kong University Press in 2004.

唐斯诺(印第安那大学, 亚洲语言与文化系, 博士)曾在中国与美国各地从事语言、文化、语言学教学二十余年。目前, 他是杜克昆山大学语言文化中心的负责人。他的研究兴趣和学术论文主要关注社会语言学的话题, 例如双言现象与汉语方言书面形式的历史发展。他的著作《作为书写语言的粤方言: 汉语白话书写的发展》由香港大学出版社 2004 出版。

Shen Senyao

Shen Senyao received her M.A. degree in Linguistics from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and she is currently pursuing a Ph.D. degree there. She previously worked as Research Assistant for Duke Kunshan University’s Language and Culture Center. Her research interests include child bilingualism, second language acquisition, and Chinese dialects.

沈森垚毕业于香港中文大学语言学专业(硕士),目前正在港中大攻读语言学博士学位。她曾在昆山杜克大学语言文化中心任研究助理一职。她的研究兴趣包括双语儿童、二语习得以及中国方言。

Zhou Xiayun

Zhou Xiayun earned her M.A from Fudan University in Teaching Chinese as Second Language. She is now a Chinese Language Lecturer at Duke Kunshan University, and her research interests focus on dialects and language teaching.

周夏昀毕业于复旦大学汉语国际教育硕士专业,后一直从事对外汉语教学工作。现任昆山杜克大学中文教师一职。其研究兴趣和方向主要是方言研究和语言教。


Published Online: 2018-09-27

Published in Print: 2018-09-25


Citation Information: Global Chinese, Volume 4, Issue 2, Pages 217–246, ISSN (Online) 2199-4382, ISSN (Print) 2199-4374, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/glochi-2018-0011.

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