Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said this in Parliament on Tuesday that “…Chinese dialects are part of the Chinese Singaporean culture and heritage”. He added that “…these efforts will help ensure that the use of Chinese dialects as part of the culture and heritage of Chinese Singaporeans remains accessible to future generations”. (click here for the news)
I grew up in a Singapore where I spoke to my grandma and mother in dialect, and watched Man in the Net on national TV in Cantonese. Heck, all the HK movies where shown in Cantonese too. I also saw the gradual shifting away from dialects to Mandarin, to the extent that they were eventually replaced by it. Sad; Stephen Chow’s jokes in movies dubbed-over in Mandarin just do not work.
When my younger cousins were growing up, they had already been weaned off dialects, to the extent that my non-Mandarin speaking granny had to learn Mandarin to communicate with her younger grandchildren. All my granny’s naggings-at-me and lullabyes in Cantonese (rich in meanings!) were something that my cousins would never be able to experience (and hence something important have been lost in translation between the generations).
So it is really rich to hear Minister say that his government thinks that dialects are important.
Read this blog (click here) which sums up nicely how our government’s rhetoric on dialects is whitewashed by its actions. In a recent talk that Prof Eddie Kuo gave at the Hokkien Huay Kuan, he was totally pessimistic about the government’s commitment to dialects. He harped on the point that the govt had been funding dialect-news on local airwaves for a long time, but these programs have had their time-slots reduced, and are in real danger of being pulled off the air completely.
For a start, if Minister Wong puts his money where his mouth is, let us have Taiwanese tv dramas on national TV shown in original Hokkien, and let Hong Kong movies shown in cinemas be undubbed.