Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dialect Murderer - Fangyi Sha Sou

"If you speak Hokkien or Cantonese, you reach some 60 million in Fujian and Taiwan, or about 100 million in Guangdong and Hong Kong. With Mandarin, you can speak to 1,300 million Chinese from all provinces in China," - Lee Kuan Yew. [Link]

Yes, Sir!
We learn to be able to speak to 1,300 million Chinese in China while we make our grandparents mad because we cannot even communicate with them in our real mother tongue!

Yes, Sir!
We learn to be able to speak to 1,300 million strangers when we can't even say hello and be close with our fellow Singaporean living next door!

Call me stupid or lesser mortal, but just where is the opportunity for most Singaporeans to talk to 13,000 million Chinese?

Maybe promoting good neighbourliness and community care instead of language would have built a nation sooner. It is the same reason that the obscene salary of mintsters has marginalised the lesser and greater mortals in my country. It's a pity that one step forward is always two steps back where initiatives in "staying together moving ahead" are concerned.

"Hua wen, shei pa shei? [Chinese, who's afraid of who?]" is funny because I'm too dumb to understand their scare tactics. However, I find the tag line for 2009's Promote Mandarin Campaign ridiculously apt when converted to Hokkien in another way, "Hwa boon, si, kia si? [Chinese, die, scared to die?]".

In view of SPH's publishing and sale of the new book [Link], I'm no longer surprised by Chee Hong Tat (Principal Private Secretary to the Minister Mentor) saying, "It would be stupid for any Singapore agency or NTU to advocate the learning of dialects, which must be at the expense of English and Mandarin" [link]. I'm no advertising genius but promo breeds promo and nothing sells like controversy!

I have no complaint of making Mandarin the common dialect (putong hua) in Singapore but to dumb down the learning and use of other fangyi (regional language - dialect) by stopping radio and TV broadcasts was a little over the top. Many seniors were outraged by such high-handedness while younger ones were perplexed by their own different-from-father bastardised surname. Maybe it's only in Uniquely Singapore that a family named Tan can become Chen overnight. Weird!

I'm glad that my children still bear my ancestor's family name on their birth certificate and NRIC. They need not do a deed poll to change their family name or surname like some of the kids whose parents were tricked into changing. I still remember the 70's and 80's when school made my children feel bad because their surname was not what the teachers (due to instructions from decision makers & followers) expected. Yes, nurses in KK those days did ask me why I did not put Hanyu Pinyin surname on my children's birth certificate as if I was a criminal. It was 'kana sai' kind of 'seow'!!! ['Like faeces' kind of 'craziness'!!!]

Many rulers are remembered by their good or evil deeds. When the time comes, I will know of one who did his damned best to kill my real mother tongue!



At March 20, 2009 at 9:09 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

That man probably spoke English to his ma and pa, not Hakka.

Picked up Hokkien for political expediency - not for the love of its people.

Probably can't even remember a word of Hakka now.

The irony.

At March 20, 2009 at 10:45 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fish, you are an angry man.

I am angry too, and full of regret for not teaching my children my teochew dialect.

Now, many children's surname are different from their father's. Fortunately, I did not resort to using Hanyu Pinyin on their birth certificates.

Thank God our surname is not gone.

Lost Citizen

At March 20, 2009 at 2:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read some old history on Lim Chin Siong. He was more popular than the old man during his early political days.


Because LCS used dialects to speak to the people.

Maybe that's the start of his fear and he intends to keep things his way.

At March 20, 2009 at 8:15 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe it is not about specking Mandarin to the 1,300 million of Chinese in China. It is make us gel with the China FT in Singapore, so we have sacrifice specking dialect to our grandparent.

At March 20, 2009 at 10:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fang Yi Sha Sou?
Are you perhaps trying to hanyupinyin-ise 方言杀手?If so, then it should be Fang Yan Sha Shou.

Guess that pretty much demonstrates how successful the Learn Mandarin movement has been for the past few years, eh?

At March 21, 2009 at 9:16 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

my guess is that from Feed's profile, his second language was probably Malay - Malaya period.

Imagine him teaching his kids Chinese as a second language - imagine how many Singapore Children dropped out of a chance at local university due to our PAP Chinese language policy - while china students with atrocious Spoken English get a free education here.

At March 21, 2009 at 10:45 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The oldfart is long overdue for burial. The more he talks, the more he shows he has no wisdom.

Being proficient in Mandarin and English means little, not when you have low integrity and questionable intentions, and I honestly believe China's present leadership under President Hu and PM Wen can see through oldfart.

Dialects have been around for thousand of years, just as various forms of art and music. There is much beauty which many of us can appreciate. Just think of all the wonderful songs in cantonese, hokkien etc..... What does bloody oldfart or sissy Loong know ?

At May 2, 2009 at 2:10 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

To label "stupid" for people who want to speak dialect show that the perm sec has no respect for culture and emotion embedded in languages and dialects.

Why Singaporeans still fail to be good in Chinese after all theses years?

[1] Disrespect of CULTURE: You will automatically learn the language if you love the culture or at minimum respect it. Deng Xiao Ping speaks in clarity but in sichuanese-accent Pu Tong Hua. He is good and clear because there is love for his country and culture.

[2] Disrespect for EMOTION: In my humble view, the language of our channel 8 is worse than the Taiwan talk show. Why? Those scripted talk carries little emotion and conviction. When somebody speaks with emotion and conviction, it becomes interesting and captivating.

There are 3 levels for language [1] as a tool [2] as a culture [3] as an emotion. When your motive is learning a language is only to do business with the 1.3 billion Chinese, then it will fail.

How can you learn Chinese, if you only stop at language as a tool, and not a able to go beyond culture and emotion. If you cannot even speak to your grandfather, I am sure you would have no face to speak to the 1.3 billion Chinese.

So, when Singaporeans' Chinese standard is low, don't just blame it on dialect or the incompetence of our fellow country men. Bear in mind, Mao Tze Tong also wrote poem in very different styles. But it was interesting even though he received very very little education.

There must be a heart [centre of gravity] in everything we do.

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