Shanbei Dialect in “Rivers of the North”

November 25th, 2009 by Bob Liu

I have found three interesting words in Shanbei (Northern Shaanxi) Dialect which are widely used in Shaanxi province. “嗑”, “解下”, “相跟上” means “去 (go)”, “懂 (understand)”, “一起走 (go to some place with sb.)”. Let’s put the words into real situation. You may ask “吃饭嗑么?” Do you want to eat? “吃饭去吗?”. One may answer “嗯” yes. If you would like to eat together with him, you should say “相跟上,咱们一块去吧”. Then you ask whether the speaker understand you and may use “我的话,你解下不解下” which means do you understand me “我的话你懂不懂”. He may answer “解下了” I know, OK.

Such conversation appeared in the first chapter of Zhang Chengzhi’s北方的河 (Bĕi fāng de hé/Rivers of the North). The novel based a series of stories on author’s experiences as an “education youth” in the minority regions of China’s northwest. In the story, the main character retraces the path of his youth by returning to the northwest, visiting the major rivers in the region, and dreaming of visiting rivers in other parts of the north.

He first visits Yellow River which is the symbol of Chinese nation, history and culture. With the portrait of the rivers in the north, I feel the power, kindness and indignity of the rivers, and the courage and confidence of the character. He at last visits Yongding River, the largest river to flow through Beijing where he learns and understands the true meaning of perseverance.

I have visited Yongding River. Here is one picture showing the perseverance of the river. Can you feel that?
Yongding River

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