Chinese Corner

Language or Dialect?

The continuum of regional Chinese speech – Kellen Parker van Dam

If internet forum discussions are any indication, there’s something of an obsession with pinning down the difference between a dialect and a language. In Chinese language circles, we’re hit with the additional complexity of the term fāngyán, translated variously as “dialect,” “variety,”  “regiolect” and “topolect.” Every new arrival to Chinese language learning wrestles with fāngyán at one point or other.