Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Don't let anyone kill your language and culture

English, as a global langauge, is now getting even stronger. It seems like everybody is learning English for getting higher pay, for learning more about western culture, for fashion, for prestige...etc. English reflect modern life!! Everybody loves English!!

It is certainly a good thing to see people from different cultures can communicate by using the same langauge; however, it is also the sad thing to see other languages dying and disappering... can we blame English as a killer of other less-popular languages?? well... if you want :) However, I would rather focus on how we teachers or members of ethnic groups should do to support the less-popular languages?

Language is not just a mean of communication but also about culture and identify. An article 'language gap' pointed out 'Middle Eastern linguists are hard to find' although the government has been funding in this field. I believe the same thing is happening to other less popular is just the 911 event caught people's attention to this particular area.

The other day I wrote about the Ethnic community, which is an online community that aims at bring teachers teaching ethnic languages together and exchanging new teaching ideas. When involving in this project of supporting the ethnic groups, I keep having one very bad feeling that I had never had before I came to Melbourne: why PRC Mandarin? rather than both PRC and ROC??

I would never want to talk about politics! however, I would still want to emphasize that PRC and ROC Mandarin are so different (not just writing system but also pronunciation, typing system, pronunciation, and terms). As a linguist, a teacher, and a Taiwanese, I really do not want my language and culture to disappear; at least do not disapper because we are colonized by China. Please excuse me...but I do think so :(

I do feel I have the responsibility to keep Taiwanese language and culture; it is not just because I am a Taiwanese but because I am a linguist (though I still have a lot more things to know about) and I know what will happen if we do not care enough. So...if you have the same concern as mine, you are invited to join our ethnic community. Or, even better, please help me forward this blog to other teachers you know. I will be very appreciate.




Blogger EFL Geek said...


That is a very thoughtful post and I can understand your feelings from an emotional point of view. However I think your concerns are unfounded. Taiwan has a very large population of speakers and is in no danger of being marginalized.

Even if China were to take over Taiwan I do not think they would be able to remove the linguistic identity of the Taiwanese variety of Chinese. In fact the various Chinese tongues continue to thrive and grow throughout China at this time (to my knowledge - though I admit that I do not have hard evidence to back this up).

Unlike many african tribal languages or other smaller groups of people Taiwanese have millions of speakers at home and abroad. I also have a personal friend who lived and studied in Taiwan, did a masters in Chinese literature in Chinese (dissertation written in Chinese) and is currently doing ph.d studies in chinese literature with a focus on modern Taiwan authors.

5:01 AM  
Blogger Y.H.Stella Chen said...

Hi Blinger,
I think Taiwanese usually have very strong identify no matter what political party they belong to. As for current generation, yeah...I am kind of agree with your point that in a short turn they are not likely to change Taiwan.
However, Just like Hongkong, the future generation is going to be influenced. Take Chinese character as an example, Hongkong and Taiwan use traditional Chinese character where as China use simplified form. probably the traditional Chinese character will disappear :( and Chinese history will disappear as well (most of Chinese hitorical documents are written in traditional character)

6:10 PM  

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