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I'm surprised a question like this hasn't been asked yet. It seems Shanghainese is a dying language and it's rarely spoken. I'd like to know about resources and ways to learn the language by myself.

Anybody know of good resources that teach Shanghainese? This could range from either actual video lessons to even Chinese-subbed Shanghainese dramas.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

When I was in Jiangsu province (and later, Shanghai), I was interested in learning Shanghainese and other Wu dialects. Unfortunately, there aren't that many resources, and a lot of the ones that do exist are low quality (No IPA, crazy made up romanizations, pronunciations indicated with characters, etc.) Here are a few things I found and my thoughts on them (Disclaimer--I can't claim to have succeeded in learning Shanghainese):

  • Chinese Pod has a few lessons in Shanghainese. They have no romanization, they choose characters sometimes based on meaning and other times based on similarity of pronunciation (when read in Mandarin), and overall, it's really unsystematic. But they do have some great audio, and it's phrase-book kind of stuff, which is good for starting off learning a language.

  • M and MX is another podcast site aimed at foreigners in China, and they have some Shanghainese. Again, not systematic, but there's audio, and it's useful in a phrasebook sort of way.

  • The Annals of Wu is a Sinoglot spinoff blog (BTW, Sinoglot is an awesome blog for Chinese language learners, especially if you're into linguistics). It's updated infrequently, but if you want some linguistically accurate musings on Wu dialects, it's absolutely killer.

  • Wu-Chinese is a Chinese language site focused on the Wu dialects. Their dictionary (linked) is pretty excellent, and their resources explaining Wu phonology are decent, but the site in general is kind of a mess with lots of broken links and terrible navigation.

  • Jon from Sinosplice keeps a (long but infrequently updated) list of Shanghainese learning books and his opinions of them. Worth checking out. There are lots of great books, but many of them are impossible to find unless you're in China, and even then...

  • Dict.cn has Shanghainese content (with audio!). Unfortunately, the written forms are sort of a mashup of etymologically correct character choices and phonetic-via-Mandarin character choices.

Good luck!

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I personally enjoy these videos on Youtube.

Title: 学讲上海话

As an orthogonal comment: I keep a weibo on 南京话 (username: 听老外韶韶). It's on modern Nanjinghua, which is 江淮普通话 and therefore very close to Mandarin, though I occasionally include parts about 老南京话 which has features more like a Wu dialect (e.g., 嘎音). There is also a place near Nanjing called 高淳(chun2) where the Wu dialect spoken is apparently especially tough to learn.

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Well, it's always pleased to see people learning foreign languages even dialects. There are so many dialects in China and Shanghainese is one of them, which is more popular than most of the others. It depends on how you look at it, I mean, there are quite many people speaking Shanghainese and the majority of them are in Shanghai. Above all, no matter it is Shanghainese or Cantonese, or other Chinese dialects, they are based on Chinese. So why don't you learn fundamental Chinese first? If you are interested in Shanghai dialects, you can live with people in Shanghai.

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Does this list any resources? –  Stumpy Joe Pete Jan 13 '13 at 19:00
    
@StumpyJoePete, as I said, Mandarin Chinese is the fundamental to beginners. Learn it before you start to learn dialects like Shanghainese. The main difference between Shanghainese and Mandarin is the pronunciation. The characters are the same and grammars are similar. If you really want to learn Shanghainese, go to youtube (youtube.com/…) and I also said that the best way to learn it is to speak to native Shanghainese. –  shuangwhywhy Jan 13 '13 at 22:56
    
I'm not arguing with your advice. I'm saying it doesn't answer the question "Anybody know of good resources that teach Shanghainese? This could range from either actual video lessons to even Chinese-subbed Shanghainese dramas." –  Stumpy Joe Pete Jan 14 '13 at 9:16
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Here is a free Android App for learning medically-relevant Shanghainese sentences:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.robtheis.android.phrasebook.cs.md

you can also see how Shanghainese is written a little differently from Putonghua, even though they both use Chinese characters.

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