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Dialects of the Chinese language record the long history of the chinese nation, esp. population migration among various regions, and in certain instances, how Chinese interacted with the outside world.|
For example, the cantonese dialect originated first from Qin's army sent to vietnam, and was further strengthened around the end of the Song dynasty. In different regions of China, different words are made to be "taboos", or are used only as expletives -- in the north, the character 蛋 dan, in Zhej!ang and the Shanghai region, 卵 luan, and in H unan, 虎 hu, etc. It is interesting that in H unan, even 腐乳 fu ru is replaced by 猫乳 because the former has a character that sounds like 虎 h u (in H unan, or Xiang dialect, h u is pronouced as fu).
The English word ketchup is actually from the cantonese word 茄汁, and the English, French and German word tea, from the cantonese Te. Believe it or not, when the same type of tea was transported to central Asia and Eastern Europe via the famous Silk Road, the northern pronouciation of Cha 茶 entered in the languages of those countries, for example, the Greek probably call tea Cha instead of Te. Now, let us see how the word sofa entered the Chinese language. The mandarin pronouciation of Sha Fa does not make a lot of sense, but 沙发in the Shanghainese dialect mimics the English pronounciation of sofa perfectly. This means sofas were first imported via the city of Shanghai.