吳實錄

Annals of Wu

漢藏緬語々言研究ㄟ博客
a sinotibetoburman linguistics blog
2014-07-09

Language Policy In China, Taiwan And Singapore preservation - policy

I just gave a talk at the Royal Asiatic Society about language loss in East Asia, typically due to the handiwork of those in various ministries of education in China, Taiwan and Singapore. In each of these places, the respective governments have similar policies to encourage the local version of Standard Mandarin wins out over the various other Sinitic languages.

In Singapore, the government has been pushing since the 1970s for Mandarin to replace Hakka, Min and anything else the Chinese population may speak. This is in addition to the English education system. Interesting, some of the backlash has come from non-Chinese Singaporeans, who are concerned that Mandarin will then transplant English as the lingua franca.

Meanwhile the Taiwanese Ministry of Education goes back and forth on what's to be done with minority languages. At least for now, things look considerably better than in other countries in the Sinosphere, despite continued decline in use of the language among Taiwanese youths.

China has had a policy since 1992 of pushing Standard Mandarin use in schools and not allowing other Sinitic languages to be spoken. In recent years there has been a big of push back from local governments and organisations, and while it may be the result of the recency illusion it does seem that the number of speakers of other dialects and languages are starting to see the threat to their languages and thus are starting to take action.

In all these places, the trend is definitely one of Mandarinisation. Fortunately, we're now seeing not just post-80s speakers taking action to preserve their languages, but post-90s speakers also taking an interest. This is key, since they are the ones that are most affected by the 1992 policy in China. As a generation they are unquestionably more Mandarinised and less confident in speaking the local languages.

It's too soon to say at this point, but I'm hopeful that there may be a reverse in the trend, at least among a certain part of the population.

I'll put the notes for my talk up here shortly, once I'm settled back in from the week of travel.
    2013-12-31

    Subway Announcements In Wu preservation

    Sina recently reported that line 12 and line 16 of the Shanghai Metro will be making announcements in Shanghainese. This is a pretty big step toward public acknowledgement of the language as a legitimate form of communication.

    The original article doesn't say much about it, except the following:

    绿色的菜地、散落的农居,16号线从罗山路站开出不久,田园风光就扑面而来。而此时耳边响起了上海话“周浦东站到了”。这是上海地铁第一次采用沪语报站,加上普通话和英语,16号线有3种报站方式。

    That is, it's the first time that Shanghainese has been used, along with English and Mandarin, for such announcements on public transport in the city.

    Yet to be seen is whether or not this spreads to other lines, or is abandoned completely.
      2013-06-14

      PVG To Use Some Shanghainese preservation

      I just saw this. A post on China Daily from 5/27. For some flights, Shanghai Pudong airport will be using Shanghainese for departure announcements. Pretty rad.

      http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2013-05/27/content_16537633.htm
        2010-11-21

        Not Speaking Shanghainese? preservation

        Shanghaiist posted an article a couple days back called "That ain't Shanghainese you're speaking". It's short so I'll just reproduce it here:

        For anyone who has mastered a few basic Chinese commands and been stumped when your local street vendor doesn’t know what you’re saying since he speaks ‘Shanghainese’, you may be able to call his bluff next time! It seems that there are very few ‘pure’ Shanghai dialect speakers; whatever ‘pure’ means. The Shanghai government has had to rethink a recent recruitment drive to recruit Shanghainese speakers as they failed to find even a few qualified candidates. Of the 13 recruitment sites, only 2 found suitable candidates despite it being reported that there are over 14 million speakers of the dialect. The government are now turning to the media for help in preserving and researching the dialect. If you're looking to brush up on your Shanghainese then visit Shanghai City’s very own ‘how to guide’ - complete with sound clips!

        Click here to go to the original which has the proper hyperlinks.

          About

          A semi-academic linguistics blog about Sinotibetan, previously focused primarily on Wú, a Sinitic language spoken in the Yangtze Delta region. Topics now include historical linguistics, documentation, language rights, sociolinguistics and learning materials, as well as acting as the dev blog for Phonemica from time to time.

          I'm a linguist based in Asia, working on documentation and historical development of Sinotibetan. In addition to academic research, I'm heavily involved in Phonemica, an organisation that promotes crowd-sourced preservation of local languages.

          I'm currently in the field, so getting in touch isn't easy. However you can try to email me at the following address and I'll respond as soon as I'm able:

          yhilan.ko@gmail.com
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