Nanjing-talk which is also called Nanjingese or Nánjīnghuà (南京话) is quite similar to Mandarin Chinese. The distinct differences in pronounciation are not a large enough hurdle to prevent a fluent Mandarin speaker from understanding Nanjing-talk. Nevertheless, Nanjing-talk contains unique grammar and phrases that only somebody who has been in Nanjing for some time would understand.
This article is meant to be an overview of Nanjinghua for people that already speak Mandarin, read pinyin and (obviously) read English. It will be updated from time to time.
Nanjing-talk uses the same 4 tones as Mandarin but with some important differences:
- It has a fifth tone that is high and drops quickly. Below we’ll note that tone with a "5" after it.
- The fourth tone and first tone are usually reversed.
多少钱? (Duōshǎo qián ?) = Duo a qian? In this phrase “shao” is replaced by “a” to create an all-important question: "How much money?"
下不下? (Xià bù xià ?) = A xia? This time the second "a" was left out, however it is still a question: "get off (the bus or vehicle)?".
没有事 (Méiyǒu shì) = mede si Again, this phrase is used very frequently. Note that 事 is pronounced "si".
喝 (hē) = ho5 "ho" is often spoken in the "fifth tone" of Nanjing-talk. Example) "Wo dou shi ho." = "All I do is drink."
黑 (hēi) = he Example) "Heren!" = "Black person!" - If not "老外" (lǎowài), this is what may be spoken when a black person is spotted.
的 (de) = di Example) "Shi ta di." = "It’s his/hers."
白 (bái) = be "Be" is read in the fifth tone. Example) "Ta chuan di shi be xiezi." = "He/she is wearing white shoes."
干什么事? (Gàn shénmè shì ?) = Gan me si a
The "Drink Wontons" song (He hundun, 喝混沌) was ultra-popular with teenage Nanjingers in 2006. It remains a great example of Nanjing-talk. This link shows a video version of it.