MY ABILITY TO SPEAK MANDARIN DOES NOT DETERMINE HOW CHINESE I AM

I speak mandarin Chinese. I took higher Chinese and been to mainland China for countless of immersions. I have also travelled to places in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia with sizeable Chinese population. I just could not stand the sweeping statements made by several individuals suggesting that having a poor command of mandarin is a shameful thing for a Chinese. My question is, how Chinese you are? What is the most authentic culture?

The challenge of the day is to connect people who have a poorer command of the language with the Chinese culture, language and customs, albeit assisted with artificially simplified texts or translations.

Even poems by Li Bai was written in an era when the Hokkien language was the language used in Imperial Tang China. How Chinese would want be if he claims to be proficient in Standard mandarin today, when he clearly could not fully appreciate the beauty of the poems expressed in Hokkien, unless he studies classical Chinese?

If language is a form of identity, why aren’t the majority of the Chinese today speak classical Mandarin like Confucius? Or to wear Chinese traditional Hanfu?

The fact that words were simplified, the language are made easier to be spoken was intended to allow the populace to connect themselves to the Chinese core.

We are ethnic Chinese, not Chinese by national. If you want to speak, behave or to react like a certain national, don’t drag me into it.

Being a Chinese is to be live like one, preserve your culture’s essence, improve upon existing ideas and to leave a legacy behind.

Of course, after saying so much, let us bear in mind that it is also not right for us to reject the Chinese language. Yet, let’s not force upon or criticise one another over their proficiency.

Mee Pok
A.S.S. Contributor

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