Monthly Archives: August 2014

Answer to speaking Cantonese in Canton

I had a discussion on facebook with a facebook friend of mine. He argues that Mandarin should be the only official language in China. I will leave his argument and question for me in Chinese. My answers are in English. I did not attempt to translate the Chinese into English.

I can identify how the people of First Nations in Canada feel when their language and culture were systematically destroyed by their conquerors. My native language is now being marginalized and deliberately destroyed by the communists. People in Southern China are force to give up their own mother tongue because of the central government policy. Cantonese has a history over 1000 years. Classic poems and songs do not even rhyme in Mandarin.

“Cantonese had been “tremendously weakened” in Guangdong since the People’s Republic was established in 1949, he added. “If it weren’t for Hong Kong, Cantonese would soon cease to exist as a significant linguistic force.”” – Business Insider

粵 語是廣州地區最標準的方言,也是附近地區流行的方言,廣州是廣東省的首府。但廣東省很多地區都不會粵語,如台山話及其隣近地區,客家話和潮州話。中國人是 一盤散沙皆因方言太多,若不是文字統一,早已四分五裂。故此官方的一定要用統一的話,但沒有禁止你在家中朋友間不能用粵語,故此你的言論有商榷之䖏

The issue here is not only about Cantonese as a regional language. Language is an integral part of culture. When the British colonized Canada, one of the first policy they used was to take the native children away from their parents and forbade them to speak their own language. The result were residential schools and cultural genocide. The Chinese communist government is trying to force the local TV stations not to use Cantonese in their broadcast. All the schools forbid the children to speak Cantonese or their regional tongue. In effect, the next generation will not be able to learn about the culture of their parents. The communist party had already destroy the beautiful Chinese traditional script in less than one generation. Now they try to eliminate regional language and culture in order to control the population. If you listen to their propaganda, the communist party label Cantonese as ancient, barbaric, uncivilized…
Cantonese has a history of over 1000 years old. The Song Dynasty and the Ming dynasty poems rhyme in Cantonese because the Cantonese pronunciation kept its linkage with its roots in the traditional Chinese language and culture. The Chinese communist party uses the argument that the foreign powers were trying to destroy China. In fact, the Chinese communist party refines the cultural genocide tactics from the western colonizer to oppress their own minority. In less then one generation, we can only hear Cantonese spoken only in North American Chinatowns. As a minority living in Canada which promotes a policy of tolerance, diversity and multiculturalism, I am truly blessed.
The Lord I believe in created uncounted number of cultures and languages. We should celebrate God’s creation of diversity. Instead some try to suppress diversity as a liability and shunt it like a disease in the name of uniformity.

中 國有幾多少數民族?有幾多少數民族自治區或省?你知道嗎?少數民族教育奬勵計劃你知道嗎?你到過廣州嗎?那裡有很多非洲矞人士的粵語會好過很多cbc,你 知道嗎?我從零五年到今年共返過中國我父母岀生的地方五次,我是最年長的老表,老表年輕的下一代是用粵語和我們交談,到教會用國粵語,醫院裡用粵語,都是 事實。
反觀加拿大美國,原住民如何呀?你為何不為他們爭取?還有,多語言是上帝的本意嗎?告訴我聖經中那出處,我只知道因為當時人們建高台而後語言不通才四散各處,才做成今天的局面,難道這是上帝的本意嗎?
還有廣東大戲劇正在發展,難道用國語嗎?回廣州看看才發表文章。

I will try to answer your question logically, practically and historically.

中國有幾多少數民族?有幾多少數民族自治區或省?你知道嗎?No one know exactly how many minorities living in China. It just means that China has a very diverse culture. Diversity is the strength of a culture, NOT a liability. The “awards” or “advantages” given to the minorities are mostly based on how much the minorities can integrate to the “Han” culture, not to make the minority culture develop and flourish. In essence, the plan is to diminish the minority culture.

你到過廣州嗎?那裡有很多非洲矞人士的粵語會好過很多cbc,你知道嗎?
Yes, I have been to Canton many times. There is even an area where all the Africans merchants make their living. You just proved my point. Many Africans can speak good Cantonese. It is exactly the reason why we should cherish the Cantonese culture and let it flourish. Instead, the communist government is shutting down the Cantonese TV station and label the language “ancient” and “uncivilized”. They glorified Mandarin as “modern” and “civilized” in schools.

我 是最年長的老表,老表年輕的下一代是用粵語和我們交談,到教會用國粵語,醫院裡用粵語,都是事實。 I am glad that the churches and hospitals in Canton are still using Cantonese. I hope that it will continue.

反 觀加拿大美國,原住民如何呀?你為何不為他們爭取?Interesting that you ask. I do not know much about the United States. I do know something about the Canadian situation. The Canadian government has been trying to revitalize the first nation language. In the province where I live, the Mi’kmaq language is making a comeback. There are similar movements in various provinces to retain various First Nations traditions and cultures. Actually, I work with various cultural groups through my teaching career in this area for close to thirty years. Yes, I do fight for the rights of multiple people groups everyday. I facilitate various seminars on cultural awareness for faculty, staff and students.

還 有,多語言是上帝的本意嗎?還有,多語言是上帝的本意嗎?告訴我聖經中那出處,我只知道因為當時人們建高台而後語言不通才四散各處,才做成今天的局面,難 道這是上帝的本意嗎?I am not God. I do not intent (or dare not) to speak for The Almighty. I do not even dare to speculate on God’s original intention. I do read from Genesis that God confused the tongues (created different languages) when all people spoke the same language. It seems to me that it was God who created different languages. If it was God who created various cultures and languages, this God is the one who created diversity, not uniformity or conformity. If I understand the Bible story “The Tower of Babel” correctly, Genesis 11:4 “Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” It was the people who wanted to make a name for themselves “pride”. Instead, it was God who scattered them. Genesis 11:8 “So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.” God created languages and culture. We should at least respect languages and cultures of others as part of God’s plan for the human race.

還 有廣東大戲劇正在發展,難道用國語嗎?回廣州看看才發表文章 I am glad to see that the Cantonese Opera is still being developed as it should be. You are exactly correct. Cantonese Opera cannot be sung in Mandarin. It just proved my point that it was wrong to force Cantonese TV to stop broadcast in Cantonese.

I try to look at this issue from the cultural, anthropology and linguistic point of view. I avoid any nationalistic and political argument in my assessment.