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Old 12-29-2016, 05:12 PM
 
196 posts, read 133,668 times
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From what I know about Sally Yeh(葉蒨文), at age 4 she immigrated to and grew up in Canada before returning back to Taiwan at 18 years old to enter the Chinese entertainment business.

I also know she was not able to read Chinese characters and had to utilize Mandarin romanizations to help her read Chinese words to sing songs. She then relocated to Hong Kong and had to learn Cantonese with the support of romanizations again to help her learn to speak Cantonese and sing the songs in Cantonese.


However, I recently came across her 2012 concert, and she admitted that when she checks her weibo page, she does not know how to read Chinese and has someone read it for her. Here is the link below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNXaWYQCNns
Between, 20:38-21:43 is when she mentions it. I feel like she is maybe exaggerating and maybe she means to say she is not too good at understanding the whole content. I think she should have been able to pick up some basic words here and there with being in the Chinese speaking country for so very long.


Here is her early 1990s special edition video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VT6mSqp3LA
Between 6:25-6:40, she noticed the grass radical on her name is gone and writes it back in. So I am assuming she has some basic reading Chinese and cannot be totally illiterate being that she has been in the Chinese speaking country for so long.

I understand up until today she still has to utilize romanizations to help her read lyrics in Cantonese and Mandarin, but with being in the Chinese entertainment for so long, I assume she would have managed to learn some Chinese basics by now, even if she is not too great at reading the written Chinese.

In addition, since she was one of the earliest grown up overseas Chinese celebrity to appear in the Chinese entertainment and to not know how to read Chinese during the late 1970s-early 1980s and I assuming back in those days the Chinese entertainment people would have looked down upon those who did not know how to read written Chinese, especially if they are Chinese descent person themselves like Sally Yeh.

I would have assumed there would have been a lot of pressure on her to at least learn some basics with the support of her managers and circle of friends and utilizing romanizations even if she was not going to be super fluent. Especially, back in the old days in Taiwan where she first started, it was not really an international place like Hong Kong, so it is not like she could have been able to get by with only just English.

She then came over to Hong Kong around 1982 or 1984 and learned Cantonese and stayed more with the Hong Kong entertainment since then. She also had to utilize Cantonese romanizations to not only learn to speak the language, but also to sing the Cantonese songs.

I am assuming when they gave her the romanizations to read Mandarin and Cantonese lyrics, I assume the actual Chinese characters would have been typed along with it and after a while, she should have been able to read a decent amount of basics if not very fluently. Unless they did not include the actual written characters along with the romanizations.

For the first 15 years of Sally Yeh's career from throughout the 1980s until the mid 1990s, there were almost no other overseas Chinese celebrity in the Chinese entertainment and she was the only super famous one. So I assume, she would have felt a little bit out of place with not knowing the Chinese writing system and would have at least managed to learn some basics, if not very fluently.

It was not until the mid 1990s when more of the overseas Chinese, often many lack the Chinese literacy skills started appearing in the Hong Kong entertainment in such a large influx that later on it became more acceptable that they did not have to learn any Chinese words and the managers have decided to not bother to take so much time to make both the written and romanizations together and only just give them the romanizations to sing out the songs. In addition, the overseas Chinese are often looked up upon more, especially in this day and age since there are too many of them now, so the managers figure they do not need to be under pressure to learn written Chinese.

Although overseas Chinese have always been looked up upon by Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland Chinese people, but when it comes to the overseas Chinese not knowing the Chinese culture too well and being very low to no proficiency in Chinese writing, they will look down upon it and thinking back when Sally first appeared in the Chinese entertainment, I can imagine others might have been telling her how she does not know the Chinese writing system and the Chinese culture too well and she would have been under pressure to learn at least some of the writing system and educate herself better on her own Chinese culture.

Here are a few links mentioning that she still cannot read Chinese.
https://afspot.net/forum/topic/14146...chinese/page-2
https://sojourneys.wordpress.com/200...-in-singapore/

Does anyone know if Sally Yeh really cannot read Chinese at all, or maybe the information and Sally herself is exaggerating and maybe is trying to say her reading level is basic at most?

However, she speaks Mandarin and Cantonese very good. Her Cantonese is so much better than a lot of the other Mandarin speaking celebrities in Hong Kong that learned to speak Cantonese.

Last edited by toby2016; 12-29-2016 at 05:27 PM..
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Old 12-29-2016, 07:49 PM
 
Location: Earth
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She was in the killer back in the golden age of HK cinema
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Old 12-30-2016, 09:14 AM
 
Location: Taipei
6,771 posts, read 5,114,752 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toby2016 View Post
Although overseas Chinese have always been looked up upon by Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland Chinese people, but when it comes to the overseas Chinese not knowing the Chinese culture too well and being very low to no proficiency in Chinese writing, they will look down upon it
What are you talking about? No one here looks down upon Taiwanese people who've moved overseas. People are more envious, if anything.

Maybe Chinese people do that. They are crazier.

Quote:
Does anyone know if Sally Yeh really cannot read Chinese at all, or maybe the information and Sally herself is exaggerating and maybe is trying to say her reading level is basic at most?
Apparently she really doesn't. I've barely heard of her though. I was like who the hell is this lol.
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Old 01-10-2017, 12:13 AM
 
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From my experience many overseas Chinese struggle with written Chinese even if they are mostly fluent speaking. Of course I am talking about those who come here as children or are born shortly after their parents arrive. My nephew who was born in China and moved to Montreal at age 2 cant read any Chinese. His parents speak mandarin at home, but he only learns and speaks French and English at school and outside the home. He is 6 now. They have no plans on returning to China. I feel a little bad for them, their son is going to know few Chinese customs and traditions.
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Old 01-10-2017, 01:33 AM
 
10,847 posts, read 11,250,780 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mattks View Post
From my experience many overseas Chinese struggle with written Chinese even if they are mostly fluent speaking. Of course I am talking about those who come here as children or are born shortly after their parents arrive. My nephew who was born in China and moved to Montreal at age 2 cant read any Chinese. His parents speak mandarin at home, but he only learns and speaks French and English at school and outside the home. He is 6 now. They have no plans on returning to China. I feel a little bad for them, their son is going to know few Chinese customs and traditions.
true.

It is almost impossible to fully master the Chinese written system if you didn't grow up writing up since the age of 7.

I have met many Chinese American kids who could speak pretty fluent Chinese. But when it comes to reading and writing, they are pretty much illiterate.

In Canada, I had a colleague who moved to Toronto at the age of 7 or 8, and she can't write a single Chinese character. There was another guy who immigrated at 11 or 12, and for some reason, he is pretty fluent in writing, posting on wechat in Chinese all the time. It is interesting to see the difference.
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Old 01-10-2017, 01:36 AM
 
10,847 posts, read 11,250,780 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greysholic View Post
What are you talking about? No one here looks down upon Taiwanese people who've moved overseas. People are more envious, if anything.

Maybe Chinese people do that. They are crazier.


Apparently she really doesn't. I've barely heard of her though. I was like who the hell is this lol.

The Chinese are not "crazier". Those who moved overseas have looked at with some sort of envy as well, although not as much as 20 years ago.

Sally Yeh had her best career in the 1990s. Of course you didn't know her. She was really famous back then, but I found her songs kind of boring and repetitive.
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Old 01-10-2017, 08:25 AM
 
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Used to live i Seattle where there was lots of Chinese people. Cantonese classes were near impossible to find unless you find that one person willing to teach one which was once every few years. Mandarin classes found easily, year round without any issues. Its a dying language somewhat. I grew up in the States, can't read Chinese but can speak some Cantonese, I got the tones down the rest is easy peasy speaking wise if I can find that needle in a haystack class.

I think speaking Cantonese is like playing legos. Take one word build upon it and it creates another word. Not that hard. You can butcher the tones and most Cantonese speakers can still understand you as long as we get the context of the sentence.
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Old 01-10-2017, 05:35 PM
 
6,722 posts, read 6,597,578 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 87112 View Post
Used to live i Seattle where there was lots of Chinese people. Cantonese classes were near impossible to find unless you find that one person willing to teach one which was once every few years. Mandarin classes found easily, year round without any issues. Its a dying language somewhat. I grew up in the States, can't read Chinese but can speak some Cantonese, I got the tones down the rest is easy peasy speaking wise if I can find that needle in a haystack class.

I think speaking Cantonese is like playing legos. Take one word build upon it and it creates another word. Not that hard. You can butcher the tones and most Cantonese speakers can still understand you as long as we get the context of the sentence.
Only Mandarin has a formal written language. Educated Cantonese people read and write in "Mandarin" too, even if they do not speak it.
It is just like Standard German (Hoch Deutsch). No matter what German dialect people speak, they only read and write in Standard German for anything formal.
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Old 01-10-2017, 06:26 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
21,937 posts, read 27,320,303 times
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This thread is interesting because in Canada we some less enlightened people who seem to think that, due to immigration, a Chinese language (Mandarin or Cantonese) is going to become an official language alongside English and French. Or even take over as the main language in the Vancouver area.

It's kind of silly to think that when most kids of Chinese origin in Canada can't even read Chinese characters.

We're a long way from a situation where lots of non-Chinese in Canada would start using the language in any capacity at all.
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Old 01-10-2017, 06:54 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
21,937 posts, read 27,320,303 times
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I think this issue of not being able to read and write is very typical of diaspora children where the ethnic language uses a different writing system than the new country.

For example, my kids have a number of friends who can speak pretty fluent Arabic, but none of them can read or write Arabic as they've never gone to school in that language.
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