This is a question about dialects placed under the umbrella of "Mandarin", not languages which are considered separate from Mandarin like Cantonese or Wu.

Wikipedia says that "Southwest Mandarin is about 50% mutually intelligible with Standard Chinese." which makes it sound like a completely different language from northern dialects. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southwestern_Mandarin

So, of the different dialects of Mandarin, (of which Wikipedia lists the following: Northeastern, Beijing, Ji–Lu, Jiao–Liao, Lower Yangtze, Central Plains, Lan–Yin, Southwestern, Jin, and Huizhou), which of these would a speaker of Standard Chinese actually be able to understand? Also, I am talking about speakers of these dialects actually speaking these dialects, not codeswitching to Standard Chinese so that a speaker of Standard Chinese could understand them, as I am aware many speakers can do.


My personal experience when traveling and working in China is that Lower Yangtze is the least easily understandable. Other dialects are quite easy to handle after a few minutes of adjustment.

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