There were many topolectical surveys done and data collected in the 70’s and 80’s under the reasoning that a person more familiar with their own dialect would be readily more proficient at Mandarin.

The reasoning is logical: many don’t even know how their mothertongue works and find it even more difficult to learn MSM.

Is there any proof to this claim?

What data is there to back up this thinking?

  • Some topolects will, some won't. It depends on the topolect; if the topolect has a substantial literary tradition, or if the topolect is commonly used to express advanced social/scientific concepts, then yes; otherwise if the speakers of the topolect don't go beyond mundane rural speech, then no. For this reason, I'd put prestige topolects like Standard Cantonese and certain varieties of Wu and Min on the list of topolects which are able to improve one's ability in Mandarin, while most others are unlikely to.
    – dROOOze
    Jun 5, 2018 at 12:53
  • Possible because they're related languages, share many words in written form. Oct 7, 2018 at 6:19

2 Answers 2


Even the statement that learning ones own dialect improves ability in Mandarin may be true, it doesn't necessarily apply to those who study Chinese as a second language.

If you're looking for ways to make learning Mandarin easier, my personal opinion is: don't torture yourself. I speak Shanghainese (a kind of Wu dialect) as my native dialect. While I am talking (in this dialect), my work mate who comes from Northern China doesn't understand what I am talking about at all. You can see the huge distinction between Chinese dialects!

  • "Don't torture yourself" 😂 Ok.
    – Agnes
    Oct 5, 2018 at 14:35

in my opinion,learning ones own dialect cant improve ability in Mandarin. My family is Hakka people,so we speak Hakka dialect.

and it turn out that my mother cant pronunciate Mandarin accurately because she speak Hakka dialect for a long time.

Compared with Mandarin,Hakka dialect has a different grammar structure and words that never show up in Mandarin.

so,Do not try to learning some dialect to improve your Mandarin,it's only get worst.

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