Since I’ve always lived in southern China (Nanchang, Kunming, Guangzhou), it’s been fun to travel up North these past few weeks and hear the locals speaking Mandarin with slightly different vocabulary choices than I’m used to hearing in the South.
This list is based on my incidental observations and isn’t meant to be comprehensive (or scientific) at all. It’s simply meant to inform lǎowài learning Chinese in either the North or the South what variations we can expect to encounter in the other half of the country. My impression is that these vocabulary differences are best grouped into vague “how people in the North/South like to talk” categories but I have no idea where that dividing “line” would be. Also, I’d like to point out that all of these words (in both the North and South columns) are accepted as Mandarin (although my feeling is that Southerners would be more surprised to hear words in the North list than vice versa). Regardless, people haven’t seemed to have any trouble understanding me regardless of where I am or which of these variations I use.
Enough disclaimers, on to the list!
|shá 啥||shénme 什么||what?|
|wèishá 为啥||wèishénme 为什么||why?|
|zǎ 咋||zěnme 怎么||how?|
|búkèqi 不客气 / bú xiè 不谢||bú yòng xiè 不用谢||you’re welcome|
|yíkuàir 一块儿||yìqǐ 一起||together|
|hǎo de hěn 好得很||hěn hǎo 很好||very good|
One of the big surprises has been how prevalent the “(ADJ) de hěn __ 得很” construction has been instead of “hěn (ADJ)” 很__. I’d seen it in books but I rarely hear it in the South. Up North here, on the other hand, it’s absolutely the default construction for such utterances as “it’s really sour” or “it’s very far” (“suān de hěn” 酸得很 and “yuǎn de hěn” 远得很, respectively).