I'm looking at travelling to Shenzhen for a month. Which dialect(s) should I study? For speaking with factory managers, workers, and for day to day life?

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    Short answer: Mandarin. Cantonese is very common as well, but Mandarin is pretty universal throughout the country. – Stumpy Joe Pete Apr 26 '13 at 19:40
  • Closed as too localized? Unlikely to help anyone? Nonsense, The question's already been viewed 400 times, in fewer days than that. Shenzhen is a destination for Makers and Manufacturers. Plenty of people visit that city and none other. – baudot Jun 30 '14 at 5:44

Shenzhen is the United Nation of China -- take the subway and in any car you will hear a dozen languages and dialects. The whole of China is represented there -- from Guangdong people, of course (not all of them being fluent in Cantonese, there's a whole bunch of Guangdong-born Hakka and Chaozhou people in Shenzhen) to neighboring Guangxi (lots of them in Shenzhen and Dongguan; they were the first to settle down in Shenzhen when the FEZ was opened. They speak a moderately intelligible dialect of Cantonese, good luck with that) to Fujian, Hunan, way up north (always funny to hear a taxi driver asking 去儿哪儿里儿?) and even Uyghur people... Nobody speaks Mandarin but everybody think they do :-)

Besides, how long do you have before your trip? A couple of years?

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  • I plan to be there for around a month. Part getaway, part touring factories while I gear up for future projects. I'm a huge computing and electronics nerd, and from the buzz I here, the electronics trade areas of Shenzhen dwarf even the legendary markets of Akihabara in Tokyo. – baudot Apr 27 '13 at 19:23
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    Huaqiang Bei in Shenzhen is indeed huge but I don't think it compares to Akihabara, really. First it's full of fakes and defective products (do not buy batteries there), and it's insanely dirty and polluted. – dda Apr 28 '13 at 8:10

Shenzhen is in mainland China, so you should study Mandarin. However, it is so close to Hong Kong, and there is a lot of business between Hong Kong and Shenzhen if you know a bit of Cantonese, it will suffice also.

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