Approximately 14 million people speak Shanghainese or Shanghaihua, a dialect of Wu. But the official language in the People’s Republic of China is Standard Mandarin Chinese, also called Putonghua.

For many years, the Chinese government tried to extinguish the dialect by forcing people to only speak Standard Mandarin. So Shanghainese was banned from schools, radio, and television. The result being that many inhabitants are not able to speak the Shanghai dialect.

There is a movement who wants to revive Shanghainese by reintroducing the dialect in everyday life. If you fly with Shanghai Airlines or take the bus No. 785 in Pudong, you will probably hear some broadcasts in Shanghainese. The local government is also doing its best by sponsoring educational programs to promote the dialect. The official policy is called "tuigang putonghua, baohu fangyan", which means "promote putonghua, protect dialects". 

If you’re planning to visit Shanghai, it might be interesting to know some basic Shanghainese words:

HelloNong hao侬好  

How are you?

Nong hao va?     侬好伐  
ThanksXia xia nong谢谢侬
SorryDei ve qi对勿起
GoodbyeZei wei再会


You don’t know how to pronounce the words? Don’t worry! Take a look at the following website:

Uschi Bogaerts
Marketing Intern