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Old 05-15-2013, 05:37 AM
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,344,192 times
Reputation: 11862


While the predominance of Mandarin Chinese both in the PRC and also Taiwan, as well as Singapore, Malaysia and most recently Indonesia has united the so-called 'Overseas Chinese' community and those in the mother country, I wonder if it's come at a cost to the traditional dialects/languages of these communities, principally Hokkien, Cantonese (Yue), Teochew and Hakka. In Singapore, for instance, most young people speak either English or Mandarin (at least those who are ethnically Chinese). Hokkien is mostly heard among the older generations. My grandmother's main language is Hokkien and she didn't learn Mandarin (of which she does not speak much) until late in life. Mandarin was no more the ancestral tongue of these peoples as English or any other language so one could argue it's a form of colonialism. For instance, the Singapore government's 'speak Mandarin' campaign discouraging speaking of the dialects.

I'm not saying they should stop learning Mandarin, of course, for it has uses, but I'm wondering if it's rise to prominence has come at the expense of the other southern languages.

I've been to Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and China (inc. Hong Kong, and everywhere, aside from perhaps Hong Kong, where there's a Chinese speaking community Mandarin is replacing Min, Yue.etc. There's a movement to speak 'Taiwanese' in Taiwan, but overwhelmingly it seems the young their prefer to speak Mandarin and many can't speak 'Taiwanese' very well or at all. Even these days if you go to Penang or something you hear more Mandarin (if not English) than Hokkien among the young. All in all it seems more heard among the older generation.

I went to Fujian province and heard the various dialects of the Min language, some of them sound very interesting and different, especially the Fuzhou dialect. Still, I got the impression that it could be in danger, like many of the other minority languages in China. The dialects provide a strong sense of regional/local identity in the Southeast, it would be a shame if that were lost to Mandarin standardisation.

Old 05-15-2013, 08:51 AM
Location: In the heights
22,103 posts, read 23,627,108 times
Reputation: 11599
Yes, obviously. The younger generation doesn't learn it particularly well and sometimes not at all. A lot of the grammatical and vocabulary differences between those languages and Mandarin are being eroded as the terms from the various other languages get replaced by direct translations from Mandarin. The more difficult or rare idioms and idiomatic expressions that are specific to the languages are simply dropped. The accents slowly elides closer and closer to the way Mandarin is pronounced. Most of these languages save for Hokkien (the Taiwanese variety) and Cantonese (the Hong Kong variety) have no current popular media presentation.
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