Listening to my field recordings, it’s kind of amazing how much better I can understand the Sichuanese Mandarin that my consultants spoke now (compared with when I first got there in June). Simple things like [m̩˩ te˦] ‘no’/’not have’ (compare with Standard Mandarin méiyǒu 沒有).

It’s hard enough understanding a different dialect of Mandarin, so it’s annoying when people modify it to try to accommodate you. So in this segment I was going over today, my consultant was telling me that [zɿ²⁴] meant [ɕje¹¹ tsɿ⁴⁴]. So at first I was like, oh, it means ‘write’ (xiězì 寫字). It didn’t cross my mind that he meant xiézi 鞋子 ‘shoes’, because in their dialect ‘shoes’ is [hai¹¹ tsɿ⁴⁴] (or more accurately, [xai], but let’s not confuse the IPA-rusty). He had switched from “hai” to “xie” because he knew that was the standard form! This is actually apparent in the recording if you listen carefully to it… he says [xa… ɕje¹¹ tsɿ⁴⁴], correcting himself. (Also, the tone for ‘write’ is different from the tone on ‘shoe’, which is what finally tipped me off.)

Gah! Don’t try to accommodate me by mixing dialects! It only makes it more confusing!