Do Chinese use different language dialects on the Web?

e.g. Mandarin, Cantonese, Min Chinese, Xiang  Chinese, Hakka Chinese, Gan

Is there difference how people in China are looking for stuff on the web? Do they type it in their local dialect or use standard Chinese?



3 Answers 3


On the web, standard Chinese is widely used. Simplified Chinese is used by Mainland china; Traditional Chinese is used more frequently in places like Taiwan. But the two speak the same way, so it doesn't matter.

Another trend is that more and more sentences are created by young guys on the internet, and the sentences are widely spreading on the web, so that only young people often browsing Chinese language internet can know what it means. And these sentences often make old people confused.


You can certainly see examples of major dialects like Cantonese/廣東話: http://weshare.hk/pandoracfrance/articles/1116298. I think there is a special IME for entering characters specific to Cantonese, to answer your question about typing it in their dialect. I would think Taiwanese (or 閩南話) would have some web presence as well but don't know for sure. Consider looking in non-obvious places if you're interested in more examples: frequency of dialectical usage in Chinese porn, for examples, is noticeably higher than in more "acceptable" contexts.

Part of the difficulty in answering this question is that, from my non-professional-linguist perspective, written forms for many Chinese dialects seem so close to written "standard" Chinese that it's hard to tell them apart, when reading, from variations within "standard" written Mandarin, with maybe the exception of the appearance of some more classical particles (ex 莫 instead of 不要, 汝 instead of 你) in contexts where they wouldn't ordinarily show up in Mandarin. Also most presence of dialectical phrases in written Chinese on the Internet, that I've seen, seem to be sprinkled throughout standard Mandarin.

The idea of 網絡語 (Internet speak) ref'd by yorelog being a dialect is interesting! Any trained linguist willing to discuss that?

  • Who is calming that internet slang is it's own dialect?!
    – Mou某
    Jan 2, 2015 at 12:27
  • yorelog was implying something along those lines in part 2 of his answer- found it intriguing Jan 2, 2015 at 22:23

If "the Web" includes social media, especially chat apps like WeChat, I'd wager Cantonese has a large presence, as people in HK will use a mixture of Standard Written Chinese and Cantonese, the younger the people, and the more casual the conversation, the more Cantonese words will pop up.

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