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Blindspot becomes hit in China for the lead’s fluency in Chinese


There's long been debate over the world's hardest language and now a television programme has waded into the discussion.


Upcoming NBC drama Blindspot made the headlines this week because its leading actress was shown to be speaking fluent Chinese in the pilot episode.


What was most surprising to viewers was that she was speaking Wenzhounese, a Chinese dialect once ranked the hardest to understand.


It's even been dubbed the 'Devil's Language' by the show.


Wenzhounese is notoriously difficult to understand. 


Speakers of the dialect were even used to relay classified information in China during World War II. When Japanese soldiers intercepted the messages, they found it impossible to 'decode'.


Wenzhou-born Zhao Xing, 34, said: 'I find it interesting that a TV show would describe my dialectin such a way.


'I grew up speaking the dialect, so it didn't appear difficult to me at all.'


Perhaps in a case of art imitating life, FBI translators in the show were also unable to decode a passage written in Wenzhounese.


Alexander's character could not only speak and understand Mandarin Chinese but also translate Wenzhounese, despite the fact that she had no memory of who she was. This use of a lesser known Chinese dialect has captured the imaginations of web users in China.


Some users have questioned why an email written in Wenzhounese couldn't be understood if it's using Chinese characters.


In answer, other users have put up segments of written Wenzhounese, which showed that sentence order and character choice for the dialect were all different from Mandarin Chinese.


Another big question for China's viewers is whether the Chinese language segments had been dubbed.


In an online poll in 2013, Wenzhounese was voted the most difficult to understand Chinese dialect despite the fact that 5 million people in China are said to speak it. 


According to Ding Zhimin, a language historian and Dean of Humanities at Wenzhou University, the dialect is thought to be around 1,500 years old. It's formed as a result of several generations of warring and migration. 


However, despite its long history, it has remained a dialect that's difficult to understand for outsiders. 



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