This month, Cypress Books caught up with Mark Rowswell, better known throughout China and beyond as Dashan. He first made his name by performing 相声 (xiangsheng) or ‘crosstalk’, a kind of vaudevillian form of traditional comedic dialogue in the ‘straight man/funny man’ format. Having moved away from that some time ago, he’s spent the last few years exploring the nascent stand-up comedy scene in China. Continue reading →
When I mention an interest in learning Chinese dialects, I am almost always met with the same response: What’s the point? Their reasoning is clear: Mandarin Chinese is the lingua-franca in China and the importance of dialects is decreasing, so there seems little point in struggling to learn a Chinese dialect. I, however, argue that there are huge economic, cultural and social benefits of learning a Chinese dialect both inside and outside China. The value of Mandarin as a lingua-franca is clear, however, a brief look below the surface illuminates a plethora of reasons why someone may pursue the study of a Chinese dialect.