There’s a joke that Chongqing is a city where everybody can be addressed as “laoshi” which means mentor or teacher in Chinese.
It is not because Chongqing is prevalent with street sages or great minds, but because this respectable address is a local way of saying sir or madam and it roots in people’s humble and modest mindset.
It is even more natural and acceptable to greet strangers in this way.
Like, “laoshi, would you please tell me the way to the mall?” while you are touring in the city, or “laoshi is it ok to fill in my application form like this?” when you go through certain procedures in agencies.
Calling somebody laoshi in Chongqing dialect closes an invisible gap.
It can turn a cranky taxi driver into a smiling guide, dissolve an indifferent of officer into an amiable friend, dwarfs a rude tall bully into a civil person. Strange and lovely indeed!
The charm of Chongqing dialect also lies in its Yanzier, a kind of proverb or euphemism.
It can be short and concise, with a tint of humor. For example, a man with soft ears-meaning a henpecked husband because only such man can allow his wife to pinch his ears hard.
These are just some examples and there are more than enough to share in a short passage.
These humorous expressions arise from local people’s witty observation and wisdom.
They come into shape through the passage of time with vivid imagery and melodious rhyme.
Against this context, Chongqing is one the cities that embraces news shows, standup comedies, or TV dramas in dialects.
Besides watching the news from state level from official channels, residents like to tune in the local news media after work or during the dinner time and indulge in the down-to-earth events that happened around them, with the reporter’s mesmerizing local tones.
Standup comedians are household names and live in the shared memories of generations of people as icons.
Local TV dramas, like the classic one with a slogan that Chongqing people act on their own stories, are once the older fans’ holiday musts.
Amateur of the cast might be, the permeating local flavor keeps viewers waiting on the show time and pulls their heartstrings now and then.
Let alone the hilarious blind date shows with normal singles or sometimes weirdos, the colloquial expressions and local buzz words never fail to make you laugh you head off.
Although Chongqing dialect is used by local people in their daily conversations, with the popularization of mandarin, young generations are gradually losing the hang of the most traditional expressions because they use mandarin in schools, and they read in formal written language.
The dialect is facing the dismay future of getting lost.
However, there is no denying that this dialect is the treasure that witnesses the history and distills the culture and memory of this city.
The locals know that and know it well. They will do whatever it takes to protect it. After all, it would be a shame to say goodbye to this old friend.