WA China Watch Digest Special!

News: Most fun WA-Sichuan story of 2015: Seattleite in Chengdu wows China with flawless, jaw-dropping local dialect

Jiang Nan of Chengdu from Seattle. Source: Guancha.cnBy Wen Liu   Dec. 22, 2015

Earlier in December, Chinese news site Guancha and a number of other online news outlets in China all carried the same story about how a Seattle man living in Chengdu, Sichuan, Washington state’s sister province, could speak flawless local dialect, as good as the hotpot, as one description went.

The news sites posted screen shots of this young man from Seattle as he appeared on a Chinese TV show along with a number of other non-Chinese guests. His name card showed the characters of his Chinese name to be 江喃, pronounced Jiang Nan. He was participating in a program called “World Young People Talk” hosted by a Jiangsu television station. For each session, the program would invite 11 guests from various countries along with a Chinese star to talk about things that young people in China cared about. Obviously, all participants of the show communicated in Chinese.

As shown in the video on the news site Guancha, Jiang Nan told the panel, in perfect Chengdu dialect, of course, that he came from Seattle, his English name was Jonathan, his Chinese name Jiang Nan, and he had lived in Chengdu for almost 18 years. When asked by the host if he could speak standard Chinese, as spoken in schools and by news announcers, he said that he had learned to in school, but didn’t think standard Chinese as interesting as the dialect. He spent time and learned the dialect from older people in Chengdu because he wanted to get closer to the locals. When the host asked again if it would be possible that his future next generation might not be able to speak English, Jiang Nan said if he would get married and have kids, he would certainly teach them to speak the Sichuan dialect. He also added that it was a pity that Seattle didn’t have a dialect.

TV talk show World Young People Talk. Source: Guancha.cnAfter the show, Guancha reported, some Chengdu residents expressed regret that they themselves could not speak the dialect as well as Jiang Nan did.

It is one thing for an American to be able to speak Chinese, usually the standard or Mandarin Chinese, it is something else for any one, American or Chinese, to become so good with a local Chinese dialect.

The reports did not mention Jonathan's occupation in Chengdu. But whatever he does, Jiang Nan is no doubt a successful Seattle-Chengdu-nese and a fine representative of Seattle and Washington in Sichuan.

Watch Jiang Nan, or Jonathan, speak Chengdu dialect in the video clip on Guancha. It will make your day, holi-day, or blow you away!


(For more information on major events in Washington state-China relations, go to WA China Chronicle.)