Hokkien-Only Policy

Discussions on the Hokkien (Minnan) language.
amhoanna
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Re: Hokkien-Only Policy

Post by amhoanna » Mon Jun 20, 2011 2:56 am

Read in the paper today that six men were convicted in the kidnapping case of a lady named Jacky Rowena Tiu in La Union in 2001. All six were Chinese nationals. Interestingly most of them had Tsinoy sounding aliases such as "Johnny Sy" or "Jacky Lim". Most likely they were Hoklo too. The newspaper noted that since none of the defendants understood Tagalog or English, translations were provided for them during the trial ... in Hokkien. Safe to say, if this kind of thing would've took place in Malaysia, not to mention TW/SG, the translation would not've been given in Hokkien.
Ah-bin
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Re: Hokkien-Only Policy

Post by Ah-bin » Mon Jun 20, 2011 10:09 am

That reminds me of a story a New Zealander who had served as a policeman in Hong Kong told me. In a similar situation, a local told the British judge "We can't find the 福建 interpretor!" to which the judge answered "There's no need to use that kind of language!"

(for those who know no Cantonese, the 福建 sounds just like a rude word in a northern English accent)

Seriously though,

I am quite surprised about all this, and perhaps I need to revise my ideas about the best place to learn Hokkien. My opinion of Chinese in the Philippines and their knowledge of Hokkien was tainted by the a whole group of schoolchildren from some rich Catholic school in Manila. I tried to speak to them in Hokkien and couldn't find anyone who understood, they knew only English, and were coming to China to learn the language that their ancestors spoke :mrgreen:
SimL
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Re: Hokkien-Only Policy

Post by SimL » Mon Jun 20, 2011 11:34 pm

Ah-bin wrote:for those who know no Cantonese, the 福建 sounds just like a rude word in a northern English accent
ROTFL!
Ah-bin wrote:I am quite surprised about all this, and perhaps I need to revise my ideas about the best place to learn Hokkien. My opinion of Chinese in the Philippines and their knowledge of Hokkien was tainted by the a whole group of schoolchildren from some rich Catholic school in Manila. I tried to speak to them in Hokkien and couldn't find anyone who understood, they knew only English, and were coming to China to learn the language that their ancestors spoke :mrgreen:
Oh, oh! Hope you won't be deserting Penang for Manila...

Was it just my ignorance, or how come I didn't know much about Hokkien speakers in the Philippines. Even up to a few weeks ago, I had assumed they had all switched to English/Tagalog, in a similar way to many Chinese in Indonesia doing that with Bahasa Indonesia (or the Chinese in Thailand, with Thai), with perhaps the occasional individual who still spoke it. (Through all the years of this Forum, there have been people from the Philippines posting, but not very much.)
SimL
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Re: Hokkien-Only Policy

Post by SimL » Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:02 am

amhoanna wrote:Read in the paper today that six men were convicted in the kidnapping case of a lady named Jacky Rowena Tiu in La Union in 2001. All six were Chinese nationals. Interestingly most of them had Tsinoy sounding aliases such as "Johnny Sy" or "Jacky Lim". Most likely they were Hoklo too. The newspaper noted that since none of the defendants understood Tagalog or English, translations were provided for them during the trial ... in Hokkien.
Wow - what an amazing resource the court transcriptions would be, if we could get hold of them! Sophisticated official legal terms, complex descriptions of the kidnapping, mixed with underworld slang!

PS: "All six were Chinese nationals". I'm finding it hard to fit this into my general world view.

A. If they mean by "Chinese nationals" just "people of Chinese descent"/"ethnic Chinese", then they would be just Filipino citizens of Chinese descent who committed these crimes under Philippine law, and are now be prosecuted under it. In that case, it would then seems slightly strange that such people speak neither Tagalog or English. But I suppose this is still vaguely plausible, if they had spent their whole lives in the Hokkien-speaking underworld of the Philippines.

B. If they mean by "Chinese nationals" = "PRC citizens" (which is what I would normally interpret such a phrase to me), then this is really puzzling to me. AFAIK, only people outside of the PRC romanized their (personal and) surnames according to the non-Mandarin pronunciation (e.g. all the Tans, Chans, Ongs, Dings, Lims, Lings, Ngs, Wongs, etc in Malaysia/Singapore(/Indonesia)). I find it hard to imagine PRC citizens with non-Mandarin romanized names. Even in Taiwan, with the exception of a couple of "linguistic nationalists" who have re-invented themselves under their Hokkien/Taiwanese names, most Taiwanese are known by the Mandarin form of their names. And yet - as you point out - there's Jacky Lim.

So, under either interpretation, there's something curious.
Last edited by SimL on Tue Jun 21, 2011 3:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
niuc
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Re: Hokkien-Only Policy

Post by niuc » Tue Jun 21, 2011 3:21 am

amhoanna wrote: Same here. Ciò is a word that confuses me, though. In TW some people say chiō in some contexts. Not sure if there's an etymological relation. Do any of U guys also use chiō (e.g. goe̍hkng chiō--ji̍plâi)? Is there a distinction vs ciò?
Chiō is slightly different from ciò, but a bit hard to explain. Chiō is more active and focused e.g. laser and torch/flashlight. If used of sun, moon, lamp, candle etc, the emphasis is on direct shining upon something. Chiō is also used in "pí-chiō" (比照, comparison -> so both are 照?). Ciò is less active and more reflective. If used of sun, moon, lamp, candle etc, it's more neutral and can be indirect. 照鏡 is always ciò-kiàⁿ.
pe•-ki... Is that an open e? Or is it the central vowel?
It is [ə], a schwa.
In the case of Bagan, I recall Niuc saying that the Hokkiens of Bagan arrived not direct from Tang'oann, but via Singgora (Songkhla)!
That's what I read in website about Bagansiapiapi. Some say that the history of the arrival is written on the wall of 大伯公宮. I will take a look on that when I visit Bagan.
Very interesting to know all this. I've always been fascinated by Palembang, or the idea of it. What do U call it in Sumatran Hokkien? Kūkáng? Kīkáng?
Usually Kū-káng and written as 巨港.
amhoanna
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Re: Hokkien-Only Policy

Post by amhoanna » Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:53 pm

Thanks, Niuc.
Wow - what an amazing resource the court transcriptions would be, if we could get hold of them! Sophisticated official legal terms, complex descriptions of the kidnapping, mixed with underworld slang!
Yes! I may've misread the article, though. Here it is online:
http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?pu ... eId=696899
I guess only the decision was translated into Hokkien. So these Hokkien sinkheh were deaf and dumb at their own trial?
If they mean by "Chinese nationals" = "PRC citizens" (which is what I would normally interpret such a phrase to me), then this is really puzzling to me.
Of course that's what it means. This is what made it worth bringing up on this forum.
AFAIK, only people outside of the PRC romanized their (personal and) surnames according to the non-Mandarin pronunciation (e.g. all the Tans, Chans, Ongs, Dings, Lims, Lings, Ngs, Wongs, etc in Malaysia/Singapore(/Indonesia)). I find it hard to imagine PRC citizens with non-Mandarin romanized names.
Sure. Officially, these guys no doubt went by the Mandarin/Pinyin in their passports. BUT, IN THE STREETS, THEY WENT BY TSINOY-STYLE ALIASES!!

My interpretation: "sinkheh" from Hokkiàn arriving in Manila today ... "function" much the same way as sinkheh from Hokkiàn arriving in Manila at any pt in the last 700 years. The social ties btw 泉州, esp. the 晉江 area, and Manila Chinatown are still active. When a sinkheh from 晉江 arrives in Manila, from Day One he or she is part of that Manila Hoklo community... It would make sense that, in the streets, Shi XX becomes Jacky Sy.

Compare and contrast with MY/SG and TW, where the links are dead. In old TWese stories, we read about "Tn̂gsoaⁿlâng": Hoklo sinkheh "fresh off the boat". It was assumed that they spoke Hoklo and they were on hand to join the TW Hoklo community for good. Nowadays, the same Hoklo sinkheh fresh off the boat is called aLa̍kgá 阿六囝, and is neither expected nor invited nor tolerated (except to some degree in the case of brides) to slip into the stream of TWese society. Same in S'pore with the "aTiong" 阿中. In fact, most Chinese migration to TW/MY/SG nowadays is sourced from "new" parts of China (the Yangtze basin and points north). The new 阿六囝 and 阿中 are a whole different kind of animal from 阿公阿嬤 ùi 唐山來.

Not so with the Coanciu - Manila link! That one is a live link, and not much informed by the new conceptions of "China" as put forward by political elites in Beijing, Taibei, and Singapore.

I remember sitting in a Binondo webcafé a few yrs ago. The young guy next to me was talking on VOIP in loud Coanciu Hoklo. My guess is he was from Coanciu but lived in Manila long term. Why Manila, why not Singapore or Yokohama or New York, someplace where wages run higher? Just maybe the old sinkheh treat the new sinkheh as kin. Maybe in the old days the sinkheh or peranakans that came before them did the same for them. In Manila U are Tn̂glâng first, a Phils or PRC citizen second, and to be a Tn̂glâng means to be Hoklo, that's all there is to it.

By comparison, everything is very cut and dried in the old Anglo colonies except maybe Burma. To a M'sian/S'porean, it makes perfect sense that since the PRC overhauled kanji, M'sians and S'poreans would use the new kanji. M'sian (maybe not S'porean) Tn̂glâng identity is bound up in the word "Chinese" at almost every level, including national identity. (Interesting: Malay writers point this out all the time. M'sian Chinese seem to avoid this conversation.) But in the streets of Manila, almost everything is in the old kanji. All the newspapers are in Traditional. And damned if what the PRC or even the ROC does has anything directly to do with them, the Tn̂glâng of Manila...

Hope this was all clear and legible.
So, under either interpretation, there's something curious.
Yes!
My opinion of Chinese in the Philippines and their knowledge of Hokkien was tainted by the a whole group of schoolchildren from some rich Catholic school in Manila.
Was it just my ignorance, or how come I didn't know much about Hokkien speakers in the Philippines. Even up to a few weeks ago, I had assumed they had all switched to English/Tagalog,
No doubt most have. I think Hokkien in the Phils is mostly a "Chinatown thing" at this pt. I suspect that to suburban Manila Hokkiens (read: "international", Anglo-Christian-style Chinese), the Chinatown Hokkiens are "those people" / "those kind of people", and vice versa. To the suburban Hokkiens, Hokkien is a thing of the past. Yet the Chinatown Hokkiens go on speaking Hokkien. They're steeped in that "old world" of Hokkien, Hàn'io̍h'á 漢薬囝, and incense... I know the same kind of dynamic is at play with the Cantos in San Francisco and maybe some cities in Oz too.

Small-town Hokkiens in the Phils would be yet a third group.
I am quite surprised about all this, and perhaps I need to revise my ideas about the best place to learn Hokkien.
U might want to hold your horses just yet. I heard there's an island in northern Malaysia where they speak a lot of Hokkien. It's called Pinang or something. U might wanna check it out. :P

As for the usage of Hokkien in Manila, I'm gonna take this to the field report thread.
SimL
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Re: Hokkien-Only Policy

Post by SimL » Wed Jun 22, 2011 11:39 pm

Hi amhoanna,

Thanks for your very interesting analysis of the attitudes of Hokkien speakers in Malaysia and Singapore vs the Philippines. This is all stuff one can only get from someone who 1) is interested in such socio-linguistic issues, 2) travels around the various place, observing, 3) has the sensitivity to pick up tiny variations in attitudes and behaviours. [As also demostrated by your "Hoklo on Luzon (Philippines Hokkien), reports from the field" thread.]

You should have been a professional (socio- or any other sort of) linguist - I'm sure you would have been brilliant at it!
amhoanna
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Re: Hokkien-Only Policy

Post by amhoanna » Thu Jun 23, 2011 3:14 pm

Tosiā--lah, Sim!

A lot of it is just speculation niā'ā, the ciàⁿnáu 正脑 (right-brained) kind of thing that may drive some scholars nuts. :P
hokkien_learner
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Re: Hokkien-Only Policy

Post by hokkien_learner » Fri Aug 05, 2011 11:36 pm

well, my experience was once of time when I worked for a Teochew shop in Melbourne. And there came a Teochew from mainland China. He spoke Teochew to my boss so I spoke Teochew with that mainlander and he just answered me by Mandarin (I have absolutely no knowledge of Mandarin at all :cry: ). Later my boss translate what he told me what he said.


Sometime, I dont understand those Chinese people at all even though I came from Teochew family :cry:
Ah-bin
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Re: Hokkien-Only Policy

Post by Ah-bin » Tue Aug 30, 2011 5:26 am

The "Mamak Roti House" has opened near the university here, and the waiting staff are mostly Malaysian Chinese, so I decided to start off by finding out who are Hokkien speakers and who are not. The roti is nice, but the 'Penang cha kuey teow' I can leave. Here is what happened when I tried to strike up conversations in Hokkien with the waiting staff.

The first time the person who served me was a Hokkien from Johore, about 20 years old. He couldn't even string a long sentence together but understood okay. He spoke Mandarin and English. Tried to speak to me in Mandarin so i just switched to English saying I didn't understand. and wasn't interested in learning Mandarin.

Second time I was served by a Male, 22 from Kedah, a Hakka who speaks Hokkien with about the same fluency as the people on the PGHK podcast, but who was quite disparaging about his own proficiency in Hakka (sit fon variety not sit phon - 食飯) and Hokkien, giving me the usual line about Malaysian Hokkien being chham. I told him that Malaysia ê Tn̂g-lâng khah gâu kóng Hok-kiàn-ōa kòe Tn̂g-soaⁿ ê lâng, and he didn't seem to believe me.....but just to prove my point along came his colleague who was from Liông-giâm (is that how to say it?)龍巖 near Chiang-chiu. Both her parents were Hokkien speakers, and she couldn't even manage to reply in even basic Hokkien for anything, and told me that her parents only spoke to her in Mandarin. Anyway, it proved my point right away about Hokkiens from China having lower speaking ability in Hokkien than Chinese from Malaysia. I think what was even more significant is that this guy was a Hakka and still spoke better than those of Hokkien heritage. Maybe I should employ him to teach me...
SimL
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Re: Hokkien-Only Policy

Post by SimL » Tue Aug 30, 2011 6:41 am

Hi Ah-bin,

For years, I believed that in Fujian and Taiwan, Hokkien was pure and people there spoke it at a level way ahead of the Hokkien in Malaysia. It's only in the last 2 years that I've gradually learned that this isn't true, indeed, perhaps even almost the opposite.

I was starting to feel very depressed about your latest account, but then cheered myself up with a new thought: one could see it as a typical case of "is the glass half full or half empty?".

I mean, it may be true that Hokkien is dying out in Fujian and Taiwan (and even there, I still cherish a secret hope that in very rural Fujian and southern Taiwan, it will live on), but the positive note is that (precarious as it is, and also losing ground elsewhere too) at least it's hanging on a bit better in the true overseas communities, like in Malaysia or the Philippines. Perhaps by making Hokkien-speaking Malaysians/Filipinos aware that they might be the last precious centres of this form of Sinitic (as you did in your latest account), we may yet reverse the trend, and cause them to be proud of what Hokkien they can speak.

I am so grateful to people like you and aokh and Mark, who are doing so much to increase awareness about and pride in Hokkien.
amhoanna
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Re: Hokkien-Only Policy

Post by amhoanna » Tue Aug 30, 2011 11:19 pm

Great story.

Kedah/Penang, the great exception.

There's something about that "Oh, my parents spoke to me in Mandarin" line that makes my skin crawl.

龍巖 is Lêngnâ.

Not really in defense of the Lengnite in the story, but ... even if her parents had spoken to her in a Lengna language, chances are she wouldn't've been able to understand Ah-bin's PgHK or even Amoy Hoklo. Lengna Hoklo is heavy on Hakka elements and may be as different from Amoy Hoklo as Teochew is... Also, much of Lengna is Hakkophone, and, AFAIK, Lengna Hakkas don't bother to learn any kind of Hoklo.

The discussion about the "linguistic future" of the human race seems to be picking up steam. There's a strong case that there's not much room for multilingualism in the borderless society that we find ourselves living in more and more.

A lot of us don't wanna believe it, but...

There's a "polyglot community" online now. A lot of their stories were published in THE POLYGLOT PROJECT. Guess how many languages they use to discuss everything? One.

Why do they, or we, even bother to learn "all them other languages"?

Nationalism has been a big experiment in "linguisticide".

When the nations fall apart -- this has already started -- will we just be left with English, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish and Malay?
SimL
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Re: Hokkien-Only Policy

Post by SimL » Wed Aug 31, 2011 6:26 am

There are sad signs in the air, even in a language as well established as Dutch...

- At a number of Dutch universities, you can get a degree studying completely in English. As "recently" as the 1980's, you had to reach high-school level Dutch (obviously) before you were allowed to enroll at a Dutch university.

- In our work canteen (admittedly, I work for a multinational, but still...), there used to be signs labelling the food in Dutch and English (useful for the foreign visitors). These days, the labels are very often only in English; under the (correct) assumption that everyone will understand the English labels, so if you're only going to label in one language - to save costs - then it might as well be English.

PS. At my last place of work (more than 12 years ago now), there were two bins in the canteen, labelled (again, only in English) "Food" and "Non-Food" ***. As the Dutch word for "nun" is "Non", there used to be humourous remarks made about the poor nuns who were getting fed the rubbish from our canteen :mrgreen:.

***: These were meant for the "rubbish" at the end of the meal. I suppose the things put into the "food" one could be used for composting or feeding to pigs or whatever, whereas the "non-food" one was for plastic cups, paper wrappings of the sandwiches, cardboard containers for stuff.
Ah-bin
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Re: Hokkien-Only Policy

Post by Ah-bin » Thu Sep 01, 2011 4:35 pm

A lot of us don't wanna believe it, but...

There's a "polyglot community" online now. A lot of their stories were published in THE POLYGLOT PROJECT. Guess how many languages they use to discuss everything? One.

Why do they, or we, even bother to learn "all them other languages"?
Haha, Lú siá án-né-khoán hō∙ wá siāuⁿ chi-lê kò∙-sū….

Wá ē-kì ū chit-táu wá ū chham thák-chhe∙h-lâng ê hōe, ū chi-lê thák-chhe∙h-lâng tít-tít hiâm kóng khah-chē gōa-kok ê hák-chiá bô-siâng-kà i, siá i lâng ê lūn-bûn ták-ták-pái kan-ná iōng Âng-mô∙-ōa lâi siá niā. Pún-lâi há-lê lâng sī giân-kiú Jít-pún ê Ainu-lâng ê lék-su, sī iōng jít-pún-ōa siá míh-kiàⁿ ê. I kóng liáu ê-sî ū lâng mūi i “Nà, Lú hâ-míh-sū bô iōng Ainu ê ōa lâi siá lú ka-kī ê lūn-bûn ni?” Há-lê thák-chhe∙h-lâng tō bô ōa kóng liáu!!!!
:lol:
SimL
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Re: Hokkien-Only Policy

Post by SimL » Fri Sep 02, 2011 7:53 pm

Globalization is *fine by me*, along with everyone learning English in order to communicate well with one another. I'm actually a big supporter of this trend. It's just that I want to have my cake and eat it too: I would like more and more people to speak English (well), AND retain their original language(s).

In some way, this has parallels with the "What is Hokkien" / "What is the most desirable form of Hokkien" issue. I'd love for there to be a supra-regional form of Hokkien, so that all Hokkien speakers can communicate easily and well with one another. But at the same time, I'd like the retention of the local varieties - with all their borrowed words and local usages - for the "emotional resonance" and "local colour" that only the languages we learnt as children can give us.
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