Shifting from Mandarin to Shanghainese

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Here's a poor guy in Shanghai complaining about their lockdowns:

Taiwan News is careful not to use "dialect"; merely saying "He starts by screaming in Mandarin … Exasperated, he switches to Shanghainese to say …"

Selected readings

[Thanks to AntC]


  1. Coby Lubliner said,

    April 8, 2022 @ 12:45 pm

    I have always wondered about the film The Red Violin, one of whose sequences takes place in Shanghai in the 1960s, and nobody speaks anything but Mandarin. How likely is that?

    (I have similarly wondered about the people of Cremona in the 17th century speaking Italian, not Lombard.)

  2. David Marjanović said,

    April 8, 2022 @ 2:38 pm

    The switch seems to happen when he talks to the woman that is trying to shoo him inside, though he keeps the phone on his ear, keeps most of his volume, and doesn't switch back when she gives up.

    Also, shortly before the switch, that's a euphemism for cào in the subtitles, right?

  3. Victor Mair said,

    April 10, 2022 @ 12:29 am

    Yes, he switches over to Shanghainese when the woman tries to coax him to go back inside. Just before that, he shouts (still in crude Mandarin): "Wǒ cāo nǐ mā 我操你妈!) ("F*** your mother!"). No euphemism. He says it flat out, just like that, and that's what's in the subtitles.

    The written form could be made more graphic and crude by writing "wǒ cào 我肏" instead of "wǒ cào 我操". They are pronounced the same and mean the same. What matters is the sound of what he says.

  4. Terpomo said,

    April 10, 2022 @ 1:14 pm

    I think David's point is that 操 is something of a 'graphical/orthographic euphemism'.

  5. David Marjanović said,

    April 11, 2022 @ 9:41 am

    Yes, so thanks for confirming that.

  6. Asuitablecase said,

    April 15, 2022 @ 5:00 am

    Quite a lot of 上海话 in this BBC report:

    China Covid: Clashes in Shanghai over lockdown evictions

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