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My mother tongue.

Posted 02-04-2013 at 09:01 PM by Almora
Yesterday I was bored and couldn't sleep due to my whacky sleep schedule so I stayed online to browse some more before taking a bath.

My parents are originally born from China, in Hoisan (Taishan for Mandarin and Toisan for Cantonese pronunciations) to be exact. I've known for all my life while growing up that my Chinese was different from what my relatives here in the U.S. spoke. They either spoke Hong Kong Cantonese, Mandarin or both. What I speak is a subdialect of Cantonese called Hoisan vah or Hoisan. Vah just means language. Not many people speak this form of dialect here in the States which makes me feel very sad. As far as I know, it's not really a dying language. However, it is in a sense since China has made it mandatory for all their education and even political systems to be converted to Mandarin as their official language, causing a lot of problems for the older folk, like the grandparents' generation.

I'm only fluent in speaking Hoisan and I can understand Cantonese, but not speak it. As for Mandarin, I have a hard time understanding their pronunciations and words. It's all "r's," "ts" "z" to me and I can understand to a little extent, but I cannot converse with another Mandarin fluent Asian for the life of my life. I can do pinyin also but my keyboard doesn't really support the weird pronunciation marks ha. I can't write or read Chinese text either ;~; If it was available, I would've taken Mandarin in High School in a heartbeat. Nowadays, all the 2nd/3rd generation people in the U.S. speak Mandarin along with Cantonese and forget all about their Hoisan, Taishan, Toisan heritage :[

Going back to the dying language aspect, it's sad that I haven't met another Hoisanese speaking person outside of my main family other than like 2 people. Whenever I run into another Cantonese person, they speak the Hong Kong Canto and when I open my mouth it's like they don't understand half the things I say. Well I can't blame them, I do the same to the others as well heh.

Anyways, the main point is that I'm proud to speak a dialect! As you all know(probably), I'm a big time Arata fangirl because omfg his fukui-ben dialect won me OVER. Ironically, he speaks a dialect which I find so sexy. The research I did yesterday on my roots also reminded me of another thing: the stigma about dialects in some places. In reality, Hoisan is what you'd call "hillbilly" or "village/farmer" language. Some snobby Chinese people don't like Hoisan because it sounds "less eloquent" than Mandarin, but hey, at least it reminds most Chinese of their homes and roots right? Although I've never experienced this stigma I just get a weird look, but I still feel special lol.

So, if you speak a dialect, kudos to you for being special, teach it to your children and keep it strong and don't let it die out! Dialects make a language unique and special. Now this reminds me I gotta get myself started on self-learning Mandarin by dramas ;_;

Share something unique about your heritage I guess? Or not.

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  1. Draft's Avatar
    Misleading title xDD I thought it was about your mother scolding you and teaching you a life lesson, lols.

    I know a little Mandarin, but I can't read it Q_Q

    (Sad Asian...)
    Posted 02-05-2013 at 02:13 PM by Draft Draft is offline
  2. Almora's Avatar
    LOL nah, but she still nags at me from time to time :I

    I was gunna ask you what you spoke eventually lol. Is mandarin the only one you speak?

    Posted 02-05-2013 at 02:47 PM by Almora Almora is offline
  3. Draft's Avatar
    I actually tried to look up my 2nd dialect and the closest assumption I got was Min Chinese, or to be specific Fuzhou dialect(?)

    Not being able to read Chinese makes it harder, but the pinyin helped me.

    I was hoping we had the same dialect. D:
    Posted 02-05-2013 at 06:12 PM by Draft Draft is offline
  4. Almora's Avatar
    Aw I looked it up and it sounds totally different lol. I don't understand their pronunciations u_u

    But yeah, it'd be nice if we had the same dialect, I wouldn't feel so left out :I
    Posted 02-05-2013 at 07:36 PM by Almora Almora is offline
  5. Draft's Avatar
    It be so funny if we had the same dialect, similar to talking in codes xD

    I envy people when they chat in a different language that you don't understand, you feel completely left out ;_;
    Posted 02-05-2013 at 08:35 PM by Draft Draft is offline
  6. Shiki's Avatar
    My dialect's hokkien (Fujian), and here in Singapore, it got mixed all over with all the other languages... and it's stereotyped as a language that the uneducated people speak.

    Mandarin's my mother tongue, since all Singaporeans are required to be bilingual at high school standards XD
    Posted 02-06-2013 at 05:51 AM by Shiki Shiki is offline
  7. Almora's Avatar
    @Snow: Yeah I understand that feeling. My high school had a lot of hispanics so I heard so much girls talking in spanish and I was, "I can't do that with anyone ;_;" EVEN THE KOREANS AND JAPANESE DID IT. There was only like 3 chinese ppl in the whole school. Even then, they didn't understand when I talked to them orz

    @Shiki: xD It's k. When our dialects are dying we'll be scouted for interviews and treated as celebs for speaking a unique language.
    Posted 02-06-2013 at 05:34 PM by Almora Almora is offline
  8. Nebula's Avatar
    Hokkien seems relatively common, quite a few Malaysian chinese tend to speak it. I recently met a person whose parents were Malaysian Chinese and she only knew how to speak a bit of Hokkien. So I guess there is someone else in your boat.
    I also have a cousin (well actually mum's cousin) who only understands what people are saying in Madarin (she cannot say anything), she had an experience where some tourist was doing something and someone else looked at her as if she could say something to make the situation better.
    As for me, I never learnt any chinese. My mum speaks Madarin and two dialects, I really feel left out when I go and see my family in Malaysia. Although even if I did know Madarin, it would only help a bit. When they talk they switch between Madarin and their dialects.
    At least I am half chinese and do not look chinese at all, so there is no expectation from my appearance to be able to speak chinese.

    Wel, Happy New Year.
    Posted 02-09-2013 at 01:18 PM by Nebula Nebula is offline
  9. Almora's Avatar
    Yeah, I've done a bit of research on it, seems more of the Southern area of China(Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore) speaks it, which is then broken down into more dialects lol. Language is truly an interesting thing.

    I assume you converse with your Malaysian families through english then? o:

    HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR EVERYONE. I'm already bracing myself for the annual "call up your 10000x relatives and greet them with new year's wishes." My mom's phonebook seems to endlessly store millions of numbers LOL. We already started cooking, I'm gunna get fat later tonight heh.
    Posted 02-09-2013 at 01:42 PM by Almora Almora is offline
  10. Nebula's Avatar
    Yeah, it is quite amazing.
    We sort of converse in English or, mum will translate. Otherwise we just sit there and try to have fun? It is kind of difficult, and we get bored quite often. My cousins in Singapore speak English. When we met them after 10 years of not seeing them, we got along like peas in a pop.. amazing.

    Wow that is dedication.
    Posted 02-15-2013 at 12:26 PM by Nebula Nebula is offline
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