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We’re Here to Translate Shanghainese



Many people are aware of the various dialects spoken throughout China, but linguistically, classifying them as dialects is erroneous. The Chinese languages are so divergent from one another that they’re linguistically classified as distinct languages, as they’re often mutually unintelligible. In fact, it’s estimated that the Chinese languages exhibit more diversity than do the Romance languages of Europe. That means that Mandarin speakers cannot understand—and can even have difficulty reading—Shanghainese, the language spoken in Shanghai.


Shanghai is one of the largest cities in China, home to around 24 million people. With the city attracting countless immigrants from around the country, not everyone in Shanghai speaks Shanghainese, but a sizeable proportion—around 14 million—do. Unfortunately, the language has declined in recent decades due to the prestige and government promotion of Mandarin, which is also widely spoken throughout the city. This situation has resulted in nary a translation agency offering Shanghainese translation services, which is where TranslationServices.com steps in. We have a Shanghainese translation team, and we’re proud of it.


Contact us today if you wish to request a free quote for our Shanghainese translation offering.


Learning more about Shanghainese

Shanghainese comes from the Wu subfamily of the wider Sinitic language family, within which it claims the title of the most spoken language. Historically, it served as the lingua franca in eastern China’s Yangtze River Delta, but it eventually succumbed to the prestige and ubiquity of Mandarin, coupled with the government discouraging the language in schools. Since 2005, movements to revitalize and promote Shanghainese have increased, including promoting the language in kindergartens.


Shanghainese differs from Mandarin not only in its pronunciation but also in its vocabulary and grammar. While the basic grammatical structure is the same—the languages are closely related, after all—the word order in Shanghainese can deviate from Mandarin. While Mandarin fairly strictly follows a subject-verb-object order, Shanghainese often bumps up the object as a way to topicalize it. Older Shanghainese speakers also tend to position adverbs after verbs, which differs from Mandarin’s strict preference for pre-verbal adverbs. Shanghainese also uses distinctly different pronouns—only the first-person singular is the same as in Mandarin. In many other instances as well, Shanghainese uses vocabulary and characters considered not found in Mandarin, making reading Shanghainese challenging for Mandarin speakers.


Given the differences between Shanghainese and Mandarin, we believe compiling a dedicated Shanghainese translation team is more than warranted, and we’re proud to translate Shanghainese.


Our Shanghainese translators cover translation in both directions

Do you want translation from Shanghainese to English or from English to Shanghainese? With our team, both are possible. As the historical lingua franca of the Yangtze River Delta region, Shanghainese has a number of publications, including historical documents and literature, that historians and others may be interested in translating into English. Language activists pushing to increase the use and vitality of the language may also like to translate materials into Shanghainese, such as books, websites, games, apps, and more, to encourage Shanghainese use among youth and help ensure the language flourishes despite the threat of Mandarin.


Let’s discuss your Shanghainese translation needs today. Contact us to get started!


Get a translation quote

Professional human translation for any language, any topic