Fangyan Friday #2: The Devil’s Wenzhouhua

Learn some key phrases from the notorious Zhejiang dialect known as the “devil’s language”

For over a decade, The World of Chinese has been offering modern Chinese-language instruction from street talk to social phenomena to character tales. With 129 officially recognized dialects (方言) in the land, though, we have barely scratched the surface of everything there is to learn.

On select Fridays, TWOC will be presenting a basic lesson on speaking like a native of a certain region of China.

Wenzhou, in China’s Zhejiang Province, is renowned for its prolific cultural contributions—and a fangyan that is not for the faint of heart.

A historic cradle of mathematics, Wenzhou (温州) is the ancestral home of a large portion of Europe’s Chinese immigrants, who are said to possess a native talent for business. It was also the only Chinese city designed by Guo Pu, the founder of feng shui, which has made Wenzhou a sought-after travel destination and given it the illustrious chengyu, “Outstanding People, Land of Wisdom” (人杰地灵).

The local dialect, on the other hand, gave rise to the proverb, “Fear not the Heavens nor the Earth, but fear the Wenzhou man speaking the Wenzhou dialect (天不怕,地不怕,就怕温州人说温州话).”

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author Eduardo Baptista

Eduardo Baptista is a former editorial intern at The World of Chinese. He is a fan of rap, basketball, and the TV rom-coms “Yanxi Palace” and “First Half of My Life.” Eduardo studied history at the University of Cambridge.

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