Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas and Reminders to practice speaking Taiwanese.

It is great to see Taiwanese young professionals enjoying their Taiwanese language even though for their whole school life, they have been forced to use Mandarin and they are sometimes out of practice in expressing certain things in Taiwanese.

Here's a rough translation of their comments:

"Merry Christmas..." (speaker is originally from Chiayi)
"Merry Christmas, pastor... You must remember to practice Taiwanese language every day..." (speaker is originally from Pingtung)
"I'm sorry but I am too busy at the moment [to say anything on the video]..." (speaker is from Taipei)
"Merry Christmas, pastor. We all practice Taiwanese every day, how about you?" (speaker is Hakka)
"Do you remember how to speak Taiwanese? (This college student is from Kaohsiung and spoke too fast for me to catch two words...)"
"Merry Christmas, pastor. Thanks for letting us use your apartment to celebrate Christmas. ...(in Mandarin: "Goodbye.")...Sorry, I should not say [goodbye in Mandarin], I should say, "Goodbye." [in Taiwanese]... Come back soon." (speaker is from Pingtung)


If anyone has video links of other young folks in Taiwan using their non-Mandarin language mother tongue, please let me know. Use your digital camera to take video and you can upload your video clipping easily. Especially please take opportunities to video-tape young folks speaking Austronesian languages in Taiwan.

Here's another video of someone in Australia discussing mother-tongues in Hoklo Taiwanese. Notice how he still calls Mandarin "Kok-gí" [國語]-- the "national language." This propagandistic designation continued from the KMT authoritarian era creates a prestige-language environment that demeans other mother tongues in Taiwan.

The more appropriate designation of Mandarin would be "Hôa-gí" [華語] which is the international standard designation for Mandarin. Such usage would remove any problems in Taiwan, but still causes problems in China since it still propagates both a "prestige" title as well as misinformation. The Hôa 華 refers to ethnic "Chinese". That is like calling French "Latin" to the exclusion of other Latin-derived languages.

In Taiwan, there are three mutually unintelligible classical-Chinese derived languages: Taiwanese, Hakka, and Mandarin. There are many more mutually-unintelligible Chinese-derived languages in China including Cantonese, Shanghainese, etc. Mandarin is the furthest from classical Chinese because it was heavily influence by the non-Chinese Manchu conquerers who ruled China and other east and central Asian countries in an empire that lasted for four hundred years. It could be argued that because of the forced usage in authoritarian communist China, Mandarin is becoming the main "Chinese" language and so the designation is appropriate. At any rate, the designation "Hôa-gí" [華語] is the international standard and should be used in Taiwan instead of "Kok-gí" [國語] for clarity and neutrality. One could also call it Pak-kian-gí Beijing-Speach [北京語] -- but in most people's minds, this designation has come to refer to a northern dialect of Mandarin.


kid.wh(y) said...

okay, i'm just going to be a little snarky here ... merry christmas? remember to practice speaking taiwanese? i'm an ABC (sorry, yes I'm chinese and taiwanese!)

i've forgotten how to speak taiwanese and mandarin both, so yes, i'm a bad taiwanese/chinese/asian-american. but i am trying to relearn.

however, i think it's a little ironic that "some people," myself included, can feel so opposed to Mainland influence in taiwan. what about western/christian influence into asian culture?

everyone's spirituality is their own business, but will we live in one world in the future where western spirituality/monotheism dominates, and older spiritual systems that celebrated nature, polytheism, or simply a contemplation of self/the universe (buddhism, daoism, animism, tian xia, etc.) do not exist?

just some food for thought. thank you for your writings.

Anonymous said...

Happened to stop by and couldn't help pointing out an accuracy issue with the second embedded video by loki2501. He's actually a native Teochew speaker who lives in Belgium, so while Hokkien is similar, it is not actually his native language. If you've watched any of his other videos, he is actually quite good at several other languages if that interests you.