There’s apparently a plan to train the staff of the Shanghai Metro in basic phrases in five major Sinitic languages in order to provide information about fares and directions to non-Mandarin-speaking domestic tourists and visitors, according to a blog post on the Shanghaiist.
In response to this plan, the director of the Shanghai Language Works Commission said:
“We have contacted the Metro management today, stating that the program could violate the country’s language policy to promote the use of Putonghua.”
“There are at least 1,000 regional dialects in China, not including more branch dialects in different regions. The right way to solve communication barrier is to speak Putonghua.”
“What about passengers who speak other dialects? Using only the five dialects would not solve the problem.”
Inspite of this, Shanghai Metro plans to continue with the training scheme and are thinking of extending the service to Shanghai South Railway Station Metro stop. The languages in question are Cantonese, Wenzhou-hua (Zhejiang), Wuhan-hua (Hubei), Changsha-hua (Hunan) and Fujian-hua (a.k.a. Hokkien). Presumably these are the most common languages spoken by visitors to Shanghai, though the post doesn’t discuss the reasons for choosing these particular ones.