Dialect teaching - Going forward or backward?
I was brought up as a dialect speaker. I still feel the same sense of intimacy when conversing in my dialect with another of the similar kind. In the name of culture and roots and connection with Ah Ma and Ah Kong, some want to bring back dialect officially. The idea is seductive. Mandarin is a little alien and a little uncomfortable to many. The key question is whether we should go back to dialects. We have come so far, after the initial resistance and pain, to have Mandarin fully established among the young. The days of the old hags are over, or numbered. I too will be over in no time. Any attempt at this stage to reverse the direction will be a big waste of effort. For before the dialect is acquired, the old generation of old hags will be gone and the new generation of old hags will be Mandarin or English speakers. There will no longer be any anguish for not being able to communicate with Ah Kong and Ah Ma. Mandarin and a standard Chinese script have done immeasurable good to a huge country like China, a country that is so diverse in culture and ethnicity. Imagine what would China be like without an official language. Maybe they will have to adopt English as the common language. Do not underestimate the power of language. English is the lingua franca of the West. It has slowly evolved and become a language of choice in science and technology, in trade and commerce, and in diplomacy. Most important, it allows the world to speak to one another. Do we want to dilute our effort in having one common language for a group of diverse Chinese just because we want to talk to a few old hags at home? Think very carefully. Think with the head and not the heart. My heart says yes to dialect. My head says no. OK, it is only for a few in schools. An elective subject for those who want. Can we afford the resources if every 3 person want to learn their mother tongue? If we are going ahead with this experiment, we must be prepared to give in to the request of all racial groups who are emotionally attached to their mother tongue. My personal choice, let's don't turn back and undo all the things that have been done. We will create a bigger mess. Talk cock sing song is ok. When talk cock and sing song are taken seriously and implemented as official policies that will affect the whole people and the future generation, let's be more careful.