Status of Chinese People

About China and Chinese people's living condition

  • China Organ Harvesting Report, in 19 languages

  • Torture methods used by China police

  • Censorship

  • Massive protests & riots in China

  • Top 9 Posts (In 48 hours)

  • All Topics

  • Books to Read

    1. A China More Just, Gao Zhisheng
    2.Officially Sanctioned Crime in China, He Qinglian
    3.
    Will the Boat Sink the Water? Chen Guidi, Wu Chuntao
    4.
    Losing the New China, Ethan Gutmann
    5.
    Nine Commentaries on The Communist Party, the Epochtimes
  • Did you know

    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
  • RSS Feeds for Category

    Organ Harvesting

    Human Rights

    Made in China

    Food

    Health

    Environment

    Protest

    Law

    Politics

    Feed address for any specific category is Category address followed by 'Feed/'.

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 223 other followers

In China, Cantonese protests underscore a rift over dialects

Posted by Author on August 9, 2010

By Lily Kuo, Los Angeles Times, August 8, 2010 –

Reporting from Beijing
— In Guangzhou, the city formerly known as Canton, Chinese government banners hang in primary schools with instructions to use the country’s official language, Mandarin, also known as Putonghua:

“Speak Putonghua, write standard Chinese, use civilized language, be a civilized person.”

But residents of the city, the capital of one of China’s proudest Cantonese-speaking regions, recently marched by the hundreds to protest a new government proposal to switch television broadcasts from the local dialect to Mandarin ahead of the multi-sport Asian Games scheduled for November in Guangzhou.

“Protect our mother tongue!” some Guangzhou residents shouted. “Get lost, Mandarin!”

On the same day, about 200 people marched in Hong Kong, where Cantonese is the official Chinese tongue, converging on government headquarters. A week earlier, nearly 1,000 people in Guangzhou had blocked a subway station to show their opposition to the proposed change in television broadcasts.

For years Cantonese speakers in southern China have complained that local culture is being eroded under orders from Beijing, where Mandarin dominates. The recent protests highlight a traditional rivalry between north and south as well as the government’s efforts to bring the country under one language, local residents and experts say.

Cantonese — as the second most spoken dialect in China and until recently the language most common among Chinese living abroad — has long been a key part of Chinese culture.

Generations of Cantonese-speaking immigrants built America’s first Chinatowns and introduced dim sum, chop suey and Bruce Lee (the martial artist and film star was born in San Francisco but mostly grew up in China).

As more Mandarin-speaking migrants from other parts of China move into Guangzhou and other Chinese communities across the world, Cantonese is becoming less prominent, analysts and experts say. And the government is speeding up the process, they say…….

“Putonghua taking over local dialects is a movement we have seen for some time now,” said Cheris Shun-ching Chan, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Hong Kong.

Students in Guangzhou have been penalized for speaking Cantonese, and teachers must pass a Mandarin proficiency exam. Many employers also check whether potential hires can speak Mandarin. Fewer than half of the 12 million people in the city speak Cantonese.

The two dialects feature significant differences. Cantonese has 59 vowel sounds, twice as many as Mandarin’s 23. Cantonese also has nine tones, compared to Mandarin’s four. For these reasons, Cantonese is considered by some as richer and more specific. Some linguists say that it’s actually a wholly separate language and not just a dialect of Chinese.

“This conflict is about local language, but it is also about a form of political struggle,” said Chan, emphasizing that national political power is concentrated in the north.

Some historians and many residents of Guangdong province say Cantonese was nearly adopted as the country’s official language when the Republic of China was founded in 1912. Sun Yat-sen, the leader of China’s Nationalist movement, was from Guangdong. The province, having been the only region open to trade with the West, was the country’s most prosperous.

But eventually, after the communist revolution, standard Mandarin became China’s national language.

According to state media, government authorities proposed using Mandarin for broadcasts of the Asian Games as a way to “forge a good language environment” and cater to non-Cantonese-speaking Chinese visitors to Guangzhou. News and primetime shows would also be in Mandarin.

Local residents worry that such a switch would punish older Guangzhou residents who have never learned Mandarin.

Chun Yunian, a graduate student at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, said the older generation has often complained that the young people of Guangzhou don’t care about their culture and are always looking up to foreign cultures.

“Now, they’re proving they do care,” she said. “It’s like they’ve all woken up.”

The Los Angeles Times

2 Responses to “In China, Cantonese protests underscore a rift over dialects”

  1. Nice information, valuable and excellent design, as share good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need, thanks for all the enthusiasm to offer such helpful information here

  2. Good work ! Keep us posting, you are good writer.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.