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Say It Right Series

A question about Chinese movies

Posted by silentnoise March 1, 2009 in the Group General Discussion.

Tags: Movies, cantonese, mandarin, tones

I try to watch Chinese films regularly to learn more about the culture and expose myself to the language as it is spoken with different accents.  As my ability to recongise the difference between Mandarin and Cantonese has improved, I've noticed that in some movies, they tend to mix the language together.

For example, last night I watched a film called 东邪西毒 where all the actors spoke Cantonese.  However, for a significant part of the film, one of the female actors spoke in Mandarin. She had a full-scale conversation with others, they spoke in Cantonese, she replied in Mandarin. She asked questions in Mandarin, they replied in Cantonese.

I've also seen a few other films where I've noticed this happen as well.  In some, they moved been Shanghaiese and Mandarin.  Is there any particular reason why they make films in this way, or does it come down to the actors ability to speak a particular language?

Which leads me to ask another question - I recently attended Chinese New Year celebrations with a friend.  The anchorman for the show spoke in Cantonese and Mandarin. My Chinese friend said that his Mandarin was terrible as he wasn't pronouncing the tones correctly.  I assumed that a Cantonese speaker would be able to speak Mandarin quite fluently since Mandarin has only four tones whereas Cantonese has double that.  Is this not the case?

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