Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dialect going the way of the Dinosaur

Intesting that in today's article about Lee Kuan Yew, the below was mentioned.

Occasionally, when I disagree strongly with something, I make my views known to the Prime Minister. There was an instance of this when the Government was looking to reintroduce Chinese dialect programmes on free-to-air channels.
A suggestion was made: "Mandarin is well-established among the population now. Let us go back to dialects so the old can enjoy dramas."
I objected, pointing out that I had, as prime minister, paid a heavy price getting the dialect programmes suppressed and encouraging people to speak Mandarin. So why backtrack?
I had antagonised an entire generation of Chinese, who found their favourite dialect programmes cut off. There was one very good narrator of stories called Lee Dai Sor on Rediffusion, and we just switched off his show.
Why should I allow Cantonese or Hokkien to infect the next generation? If you bring it back, you will find portions of the older generation beginning to speak in dialects to their children and grandchildren. It will creep back, slowly but surely...
The other day, me and a friend were just discussing the same topic. As i mentioned that the coming generations of Chinese will not know these dialects, and it's a shame.
And my friend jokingly mentioned that when they don't want the kids to know what they are saying, they will say it in hokkien.
For me, I grew up in Penang, so I understand Hokkien and because my family is cantonese and I watch alot of TVB shows, I understand it pretty well and speak decent fluid cantonese.
It is the a shame in my opinion, but there is nothing wrong in what Mr Lee did as he needed to consolidate a nation back then.
I really do hope dialects continue strongly back in Penang, as Penang Hokkien is unique, and is a very distinct characteristic of a Penangite.
For instance, if I'm in Singapore and I hear a few people conversing in Penang Hokkien, I immediately know they are from my hometown! 
So dialect creates a bond for a family and community, and to give it up is a loss of a culture and history that we will never find back. 

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