Diphthongs

Discussions on the Hokkien (Minnan) language.
SimL
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Re: Diphthongs

Post by SimL » Fri Apr 27, 2012 3:53 pm

Hi Yeleixingfeng,

No, I certainly hadn't realised that you were thinking of one set of cultural traits, and I was thinking of a totally different - non-overlapping - set when we both used the word "Western". As I'm not into clubbing or rap (and I'm far too old for immature sex), I wouldn't be able to call myself "Western" in the meaning you were intending. And it's good that you clarify that you think more of the American side of Western civilization than the European one, when you use the word "Western".

>> I noticed this quite recently, Americans are intuitively xenophobic while Chinese welcome the
>> foreign heart-warmingly - referring to the contemporary popular consensus, not history.

I would be very careful of making a generalization like that. The two countries are very different, have totally different histories (and current conditions), so it's difficult to compare them.

Let me start by giving an example. In the 1950's-1970's, all of Scandinavia considered itself to be a shining example of racial tolerance. They were very proud of their liberal / progressive views, and how non-racist they were, compared to the Germans, and even the English and the French. And they truly were non-racist: there were few incidents against foreigners, very little anti-foreigner rhetoric in the public sphere, etc. But it was very easy to be like that in a society which was 98% blond and blue-eyed (which it used to be up to that time). It's only when they had to deal with 20%-40% of their inner cities having immigrants - from the 1970's onwards - that the real test occurred. The bloodbath in Norway is one of the results, but so are all the popular anti-immigrant political parties in the Scandinavia of the 1980's up until today.

I bring this example up in the current context because there are far more foreign (read "non-Anglo-Saxon", including East Asian) people living in Australia and the US than there are white people living in the PRC and Taiwan. So, while there may be daily incidents of racism in Australia and the US from white people against these "foreigners", the fact that there are not the same number committed by Chinese people against whites in the PRC and Taiwan doesn't say much about whether Chinese culture is more tolerant of foreigners than American culture is.

From another point of view (i.e. a "positive" one), I personally believe that an East Asian can fit in and be accepted in the US, Australia or New Zealand to a far greater extent than a white person could in the PRC, Taiwan, Japan or S. Korea. My parents migrated to Australia in their 40's, and yet are quite happy (and "proud") to call themselves "Australian" (and felt that within 5-10 years of moving there). I wonder if a white person could feel himself/herself as easily accepted after even 20 years living in Taiwan, Japan, etc. I.e. would they be able to say "Yes, I'm Chinese", "Yes, I'm Taiwanese". I think the answer is "no".

That's the only point in your reply which I wanted to ask you to reflect about a bit. The other point about American society having a strongly paranoid, doom-scenario element about it, I don't want to dispute at all. I quite agree with your analysis of this (and that it's reflected in many of the movies they make, as a sub-text).

As a side issue to this though, I would like to add a new thought. Namely, I got fed up of watching Chinese movies (I mean, the "great art" Chinese movies). I'm thinking of the classics from directors like Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige. After my 4th or 5th "great movie" where the hero bleeds to death in the arms of his potential future wife, upon which she kills herself (or they hug one another and jump off a cliff together, etc), as the music gets louder and louder and more and more dramatic, I lost my patience. I walked out thinking "What IS it about Chinese culture, that over and over again, everybody dies, after 2.5 hours of suffering and struggle?". Give me the Western rom-coms *anytime*. In a similar way to your wondering if there isn't something fundamentally weird about American society, because of their obsession with invasion and hostile aliens, I wondered if there isn't something fundamentally weird about Chinese society, because of their obsession with tragedy and suffering and death. (Of course, I'm not saying that obsession with death is just as bad as paranoia, I'm just drawing some vague parallel. And I'm also aware that Japanese culture is probably even more obsessed with death than Chinese culture is...)

I'll leave it at that (for the moment).
amhoanna
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Re: Diphthongs

Post by amhoanna » Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:30 am

Interesting theory, YLXF.

Sino-TWese would tend to agree that the "Japanese Era" was good for TW, but for different reasons relating mostly to economic advancement and "Westernization" (Meiji).

I would tend to think that the Cultural Revolution and other Neo-Chinese (PRC) policies are what killed Chinese culture in China, not the movements of the Republican era.

In some respects, sinkhek Sino-M'sians have been more conservative than Sino-TWese, no? Yet Sino-M'sian culture has taken on a tinge of the Neo-Chinese. I think this has to do with the early ties btw Communist Sino-M'sians and Communist Chinese, and the fact that these early ties were never really betrayed, although they were attacked by the "foreign powers", which only strengthened the ties on an emotional level. In other words, events in Malaya led Sino-Malayans to identify with political and cultural movements in China -- esp. b/c much of what took place could be classed as "persecution", a perennial favorite for the disadvantaged Chinese plurality (worldwide).

Sino-Saigonese culture has been conservative like Sino-M'sian culture, although much more "outbred". Yet the community has been unanimous in its distaste for all things Neo-Chinese. The Chinese edition of the Saigon Viet Cong newspaper publishes in Traditional Chinese to this day. A Communist rag, publishing in Traditional Chinese.

I'll also put forward the uneducated guess that the Neo-Chinese campaign to wipe out traditional culture caused the "Eastern Republic" based on TW to begin to identify itself with cultural preservation. But even this was done in a monolithic way till the last decade or two -- I'm talking about the 20th century Imperial ("Beijing") architecture that U see so much of in 台北 and 高雄.

Some would say that the newfound emphasis on "local culture" (on a micro-level) in TW is a continuation of a "locophilic" attitude instilled in "Japanese times". For all I know, this may be true.

On a more "spiritual" level, Japan, Vietnam, and the Deep South of China (and to some extent the Koreas) have been carriers of a "lost" Tang culture. And the colonization of Taiwan by Hokkienese, Hakka and Japanese has been a time of reinforcing contact w/i this sphere.
Malaysian Malays don't really listen to Malaysian Malay songs - something I learnt from National Service.
So they listen to Indonesian music?
I noticed this quite recently, Americans are intuitively xenophobic while Chinese welcome the foreign heart-warmingly
there are far more foreign (read "non-Anglo-Saxon", including East Asian) people living in Australia and the US than there are white people living in the PRC and Taiwan. So, while there may be daily incidents of racism in Australia and the US from white people against these "foreigners", the fact that there are not the same number committed by Chinese people against whites in the PRC and Taiwan doesn't say much about whether Chinese culture is more tolerant of foreigners than American culture is.
I would say the Chinese are just as intuitively xenophobic as Anglo-Americans, but they also lack the "self-correcting" mechanisms that Anglos have developed in the last few decades. I would say that xenophobia is a human trait, but E. Asian xenophobia is pure xenophobia, whereas Anglo-Germanic xenophobia takes the form of racism, and obsessions with "whiteness".

Most of the foreigners in TW now are Southeast Asian, if U don't count the Chinese-born as foreigners. White people are a minority even among foreigners, but the Sino-TWese are so demented that they think of white people and Turkish or Arab types as being the only "true" foreigners.

The Anglo world has made big strides in the past few decades to check and correct itself on its attitudes towards people of other "races". This is something that the Chinese have done very little of. The US influence is so strong in TW, though, that they seem to be getting it through that connection. Nowadays a lot of government services in TW are available in Vietnamese, Thai and Indonesian. This started just a few yrs ago.

I rd a joke recently that TW is a "xenophilic" society in the sense that the wives of the lower class are foreigners, the children of the middle class are foreigners (sent abroad for their education, etc.), and the upper class are mostly foreigners in themselves (Chinese, esp. born in China).
SimL
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Re: Diphthongs

Post by SimL » Sat Apr 28, 2012 11:12 am

Hi amhoanna,

As usual, I love reading your analyses and thoughts! Sometimes (but not at all often) I don't quite agree with them (usually more from an emotional/attitude point of view, than from the factual side of the analysis), but even then, I always find that you think things out very well, and take into account many historical and cultural aspects of the topic you're discussing.
events in Malaya led Sino-Malayans to identify with political and cultural movements in China
My maternal granddad supporting the CCP in the early years is a very good instance of this, I guess.

The Baba paternal side of my family were, in some senses "far more Chinese" than my Sin-Khek maternal side, because they continued to practice / have (slightly modified versions of) the customs and attitudes of 19th century China (when they left the mainland), completely untouched by the modern progressive movements of the end of the 19th century / early 20th century. I always found it interesting to note this, because of the paradox that they couldn't read or write Chinese. In the eyes of many Sin-Kheks, that made them "not real Chinese at all", but they were doing things and behaving in ways which were far more Chinese (whatever that means!) than the Sin-Kheks who despised them for being illiterate in characters.

---

I liked very much your analysis of the degree of xenophobia Anglo-Americans vs. Chinese.
the Sino-TWese are so demented that they think of white people and Turkish or Arab types as being the only "true" foreigners
The poor Turks and Arabs! They get the bad end of the stick in the US, Europe, AND China-Taiwan!

But I understand what you mean, and there are parallels here too. Here in Northern Europe, the children of Greek or Italian immigrants, who (I mean the children) speak fluent and accent-free Dutch (or German, Swedish, etc) would be fully accepted as "Dutch" (or German, Swedish, etc), but the same would not apply if the ethnic background is Turkish, Arabic (or East Asian too, for that matter, though to a far lesser extent).
amhoanna
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Re: Diphthongs

Post by amhoanna » Sat Apr 28, 2012 5:01 pm

As usual, I love reading your analyses and thought
Thanks! :mrgreen:

Interesting about the Babas keeping old traditions alive. Not surprising! :P

Recently I read a story written by a 20-something Baba femme. On her first long trip away from home, a lot of Sinkheks were curious and kind of under-informed about her heritage... But after a few days, an older Sinkhek lady came up to her and said, "I can see it now, U move like a Malay!"

This reminded me of last yr when a friend and I admired a 20-something Malay femme as she sashayed down a street in one of the older districts of Canton 廣州. We (and she!) had done the same at other times in Nusantara, but to see her do it on Chinese soil was something else. She just had this womanly rhythm and flow... In Sinospheric terms, the word would be "hyperwomanly", and indeed most women don't move that way, or don't dare move that way in the Sino countries inc. Japan.

It's strange that some people use the phrase 紅毛屎 ângmô·sái to refer to people that speak Malay and/or Hokkien regularly (i.e. ahead of English) simply b/c they don't know kanji and/or Mandarin. Since when were Hokkien and Malay angmo languages? How is Malaysia going to become a "developed country" if its citizens are so bad at logic?? :lol:

The same kind of thing is at play with this website:
http://www.borneocolours.com/

Wouldn't it make sense for a Borneo website to be Malay-language-dominant? But leave it to M'sians to solve everything by "just using English", cries of angmosai be damned. :mrgreen: I can hear them already, the average M'sians, protesting my viciousness... B/c they're mostly very nice people, just very conservative and afraid to pop bubbles and face paradoxes...
the Sino-TWese are so demented that they think of white people and Turkish or Arab types as being the only "true" foreigners

The poor Turks and Arabs! They get the bad end of the stick in the US, Europe, AND China-Taiwan!
Au contraire! Sino people tend to think of "white people" as being the real "foreigners", while black, brown and yellow foreigners aren't really "foreigners", but definitely aren't "one of us" either. It's these Africans and Indians and Southeast Asians that tend to get shafted in Sinociety. And Turks and Arab are generally lucky enough to pass as white people, or bona fide "foreigners".
FutureSpy
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Re: Diphthongs

Post by FutureSpy » Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:11 am

Hi Yeleixingfeng. I'm 23 now, and I'm actually full Japanese. 3/4 of my heritage is Akita province. Considering the surnames from those 3/4 didn't really leave Northeastern area, at least not until very recently, I could say I'm at least very Touhoku (not that anyone there claim that as their identity tho). As for the remaining 1/4, they're from Hokkaido, but that means absolutely nothing, as most Japanese there were actually immigrants. My grandma's surname is found in nearly ALL provinces in Japan, but at a relative low frequency (often only 1 entry in the telephone directories). Only Saga (Southern Japan) or Saitama (near Tokyo area) have a substantial yet not big enough amount of people to be conclusive in any way, and since these two areas are geographically very far from one another, they could perfectly have emerged independently. Besides, 真島 is much more frequent than 眞島, and it might also have to do with 眞 not making Japanese Gov's Jouyou Kanji lists and possibly being replaced by 真 (similar to people outside Japan who still use 會 instead of 会 on their surnames), so I might not be on the right track. I can get a copy of 戸籍 (family registries), but since they only started to be systematically issued in the early Meiji era, I'm very limited on the amount of information I can extract from them, let alone me being unable to read scribbled handwriting. Having some evidence that side of my family stayed generations enough in Touhoku would be enough for me to consider myself fully Northeastern Japanese, and some Saga or Saitama heritage being as hypotetical as me having some Ainu or Emishi heritage.

Now as for my anti-Japanese feelings... When I was a kid, I could never understand why, being culturally Brazilian in most ways and speaking Portuguese just as well as the rest of the kids, people still labeled me "Japanese". As time went by, I probably understood it was merely based on physical treats, that is, people's superficial judgment based on what they see rather than what I actually am. Most Japanese Brazilian simply accept themselves are Japanese and are even proud of it, even though they speak no Japanese at all or are completely ignorant of the culture. Obviously, only until they go to Japan and get treated as any other foreigner (or even worse, since people there do look down at them for not being able to speak Japanese --it's actually worth mentioning Japanese Gov. in the early 90's started granting easily visas for people from Japanese descent to work there in low skilled jobs 'cos they assumed Japanese descents were culturally closer to Japanese than foreigners and would fit Japanese society more easily... that's how ignorant they were about us!) and realize in fact they're indeed Brazilians with a rather insignificant Japanese background. Bear with me, Japanese Brazilians here in general were so well assimilated that many can't even pronounce their surnames properly! Anyway, I just got over my inferiority feelings during 5th grade, after my grandpa's cousin came all the way from Japan to visit us, and I found out how hard he tried to make his daughters learn some Portuguese. It wasn't until High School when I started learning Standard Japanese. I was interested in modern Japanese pop culture, I used to love Japanese drama, manga, anime and J-POP, and really wanted to go study in Japan (Japanese say their school uniforms are out of fashion, but I've always found them cool), but I guess I was never naivy enough to consider myself Japanese. My attitude towards Japanese went from neutral to very positive back then. Then, during my senior year of High School I learned how to read/write Hangeul alphabet from a classmate, and that Japanese relative for some reason told me to never forget Japanese war crimes throughout Asia. At same time, I got busy with my entrance exams and was forced by my parents to quit Japanese classes. So as my interest for Japan declined, learning more about those awful things screwed it all up and made me have mixed feelings about Japan and Japanese people. Well, all Japanese people are of course not to blame, their stupid Imperial gov. is. Yet, I can't help to feel a little anti-Japanese. I don't hate them, but I can't love them either if you get my point. Anyway, after quitting Japanese I became aware of dialectology and finally stopped looking down at my grandparents' speech. Japanese language policy completely annihilated Japanese dialects (Okay, I'd rather call them languages, but seems like no linguists dare to say many of them are actually separated languages. Mutual intelligibility isn't the best way to separate languages, but it'd indeed not fail if people were to speak pure dialects as some eldery still do.) and Ryukyuan languages. My grandma used to say all the time her Japanese is broken. She couldn't study enough so she can only read a few kanji. Last year, I brought her some Kumon materials from kindergarten level and she soon went into tears for not being able to understand what she read, even though it was all hiragana. However, after I read it aloud she got to understood it. In short, it might sound like functional illiteracy, but I recall in past her reading me children books (all hiragana too), so it probably has also to do with aging (she's turning 85 this year).
The Taiwanese pronunciation of Mandarin is much more acceptable than the Shishashishaws of Beijing.
Well, makes sense, since Mandarin wasn't native to Taiwanese after all. Just like Japanese language Taiwanese people spoke was much more Standard than that spoken in many parts of Japan in the same period (it was perhaps during that time when Japanese government supressed Japanese dialects, advised teachers correct kids or even punish them for speaking in dialect at school).

Anyway, all that is off-topic here, so sorry :P

Thanks SimL and Yeleixingfeng. I think I'm beginning to understand a little about Han people presence in S'pore and M'sia. I remember having read long ago about Lee claiming himself as Japanese and even cosplaying, but oh well... If so, he'd be some kind of obsessed otaku or something, just like that guy in his 30s SimL described. o_O
The much more accurate Sinitic phonetics 註音 (Zhuyin) emerged due to inspiration from the Japanese kana too, rumour has it.
I always thought Zhuyin was used in China as well up to the half of last century. Anyway, pardon my ignorance about Chinese cultural aspects, sounds like PRC was a huge cultural breakaway from the rest of Chinese communities. I really need to read more about it.
Perhaps someone like FutureSpy shares some of these aspects with me too. My own life history has made me very interested in the subject of "identity" - how does one identify and label oneself, why does one choose the specific labels that one does, etc.
Well, I remember going shopping with my mom at a Japanese district (nowadays some kind of Chinatown with nearly no Japanese shops or Japanese people living there) and hearing a few kids speaking Japanese, and me trying to show off I could speak Portuguese instead. Dumb me. I always tried hard to minimize every trace of Japan or Asia on myself. I totally failed, as I remember during my High School days getting all depressed about not fitting Brazilian way of being (most Brazilians aren't what I'd call politically correct in many ways, and that often goes against my own values) and really willing to get outta here. I'm not Japanese, but I'm not Brazilian either. I'm just me, d'oh...
From another point of view (i.e. a "positive" one), I personally believe that an East Asian can fit in and be accepted in the US, Australia or New Zealand to a far greater extent than a white person could in the PRC, Taiwan, Japan or S. Korea. My parents migrated to Australia in their 40's, and yet are quite happy (and "proud") to call themselves "Australian" (and felt that within 5-10 years of moving there). I wonder if a white person could feel himself/herself as easily accepted after even 20 years living in Taiwan, Japan, etc. I.e. would they be able to say "Yes, I'm Chinese", "Yes, I'm Taiwanese". I think the answer is "no".
Sounds pretty much like me trying to act as Brazilian as I could and yet being called "Japanese". Anyway, from what I write here you might end up creating a biased view of Brazilians. Anyway, there's this Hokkien Australian guy friend of a friend of mine who seems to dislike everything Chinese (Hokkien included). At first he told me he was from Malay descent (despite him looking the typical Hokkien). He only confirmed it after I asked him about it being Chinese Malaysian. So yes, he's Australian... Is it just me or seems like that's getting at least a little more usual in S'pore? Any examples like that in M'sia as well? Does Chinese Malaysian people consider themselves "Chinese"?
a "locophilic" attitude instilled in "Japanese times".
Makes sense. So perhaps calling Hokkien "Taiwanese" was also something introduced by the Japanese.
I would tend to think that the Cultural Revolution and other Neo-Chinese (PRC) policies are what killed Chinese culture in China, not the movements of the Republican era.
What's Chinese culture like nowadays in China? Sorry for my ignorance...
Last edited by FutureSpy on Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
amhoanna
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Re: Diphthongs

Post by amhoanna » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:58 am

Makes sense. So perhaps calling Hokkien "Taiwanese" was also something introduced by the Japanese.
The term 台語 (not to mention 台湾語) was a Japanism, but the origins of the term 台湾話 are a bit less clear-cut. In some of the historical fiction I've read, the term that was used was "lán ê uē", poss. even "lánlâng'uē", and the second term is widespread in the Phils too, but I wouldn't be surprised if the term 台湾話 was already in use before the Japanese occupation.
Lee claiming himself as Japanese
He (Li Tenghui) really is. He was born during the "Japanese Era", got all his schooling in Japanese up till Cornell, and I think his brother fought for Japan in WW2. He was exclusively a JPnese citizen into his 20s. His JPnese is as good as his Hoklo, and better than his Mandarin or English. He can also read and write in JPnese, something no one has ever seem him (or most of his peers) do in Hoklo.

As ridiculous as it seems that "a Taiwanese man" would identify as Japanese, that just highlights how out of hand these national projects have gotten... A Phuket Malay might identify as "Thai", and do all her reading and Facebooking in Thai, while a Singapore Malay might identify as "Singaporean", and do all his reading and socializing in English, mostly broken, but any "attack" on their "betrayal" of their Malay "roots" would be counterattacked as mean-spirited and uncalled for, while national authorities in Bangkok and Temasek :P continually pour taxpayer money into the project of creating young people who couldn't imagine any other political or cultural reality.
Does Chinese Malaysian people consider themselves "Chinese"?
More than any other group of people on the planet, as far as I can see. :mrgreen:
What's Chinese culture like nowadays in China? Sorry for my ignorance...
A Pacific-sized question. :P I would summarize it as being a sexually unappealing simplification of the past, and as standardization with political control in mind, all with masculine, land-based, "army/cavalry" aesthetics. It seems that the same thing has taken place in India, and in the Moslem world at large.
Ah-bin
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Re: Diphthongs

Post by Ah-bin » Tue May 01, 2012 2:58 am

He (Li Tenghui) really is. He was born during the "Japanese Era", got all his schooling in Japanese up till Cornell, and I think his brother fought for Japan in WW2. He was exclusively a JPnese citizen into his 20s. His JPnese is as good as his Hoklo, and better than his Mandarin or English. He can also read and write in JPnese, something no one has ever seem him (or most of his peers) do in Hoklo.
I think it might be good to add to this: "...and like all Taiwanese at the time, he had no idea that there would be a war, that Japan would lose it, that Taiwan would be handed over to the jurisdiction of the Republic of China and that the whole world he had grown up in would be turned upside down so that the educated people of his generation would be considered dangerous Japanese collaborators by their new government."

I think the Japanisation of Taiwanese had less to do with admiration for Japan and forgetting one's roots than being simply a wish to improve one's own circumstances by trying to function effectively and profitably in the society they lived in. Kind of like Chinese in in other countries who learnt English and became doctors and dentists rather than bothering to learn any kind of Chinese (now the situation has changed of course, because of Chinese money) the admiration grew later when they came up against the KMT and its soldiers.

I would say the whole idea of Japanised-Taiwanese seems wrong or perverse to many Chinese nowadays because they are constantly told about what the Japanese army did to Chinese in China and SE Asia, and also because these things happened within living memory. Whatever the Japanese did to Taiwanese during their takeover of Taiwan had mostly passed out of living memory by the time the war finished, so they didn't pick up the strongly anti-Japanese sentiments of the Chinese elsewhere.

This reminds me of an interesting story that involves Hokkien....
I read somewhere (I think in a book by 龍應台) that there were Hokkien-speaking Taiwanese in the Japanese army who met other Hokkien-Speaking Chinese as enemies in Borneo (or was it Hakkas). It would be interesting to find out how they reacted to each other. I have forgotten for the moment what happened.
SimL
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Re: Diphthongs

Post by SimL » Wed May 02, 2012 10:42 am

amhoanna wrote:As ridiculous as it seems that "a Taiwanese man" would identify as Japanese, that just highlights how out of hand these national projects have gotten... A Phuket Malay might identify as "Thai", and do all her reading and Facebooking in Thai, while a Singapore Malay might identify as "Singaporean", and do all his reading and socializing in English, mostly broken, but any "attack" on their "betrayal" of their Malay "roots" would be counterattacked as mean-spirited and uncalled for, while national authorities in Bangkok and Temasek continually pour taxpayer money into the project of creating young people who couldn't imagine any other political or cultural reality.
and
Ah-bin wrote:I think it might be good to add to this: "...and like all Taiwanese at the time, he had no idea that there would be a war, that Japan would lose it, that Taiwan would be handed over to the jurisdiction of the Republic of China and that the whole world he had grown up in would be turned upside down so that the educated people of his generation would be considered dangerous Japanese collaborators by their new government."
I think this is a really interesting topic, and I like Ah-bin's point.

What troubles me in discussions on this topic (I don't mean here, I mean in the world in general) is the idea that "race" or "*original*" ethnic culture is somehow "sacred", and that people giving this up is a betrayal. While they are very important aspects of identity, I think it's important not to become too fixated on them.

That's not to detract from amhoanna's point of course: that governments do try and brainwash citizens into some idealogical position which they desire them to have. Just look at how Singapore persuaded all the Chinese that the North Sinitic variety was their "mother tongue"! My reply is just a plea not to be too focussed on an "original" ethnic identity. These things are in a constant state of flux: a new ethnic identity can arise in 2-3 generations (e.g. the Babas in Malaysia). I think that this parallels my description of myself as a "descriptive linguist". In the same way as I don't believe that there was ever a "pure", "correct" form of a language, to which one should try and conform, I don't believe that there is a "pure", "correct" ethnic identity, to which one should try and conform. The ethnic identities as we know them are (often) a product of political and historical processes, some of them very fake and forced (e.g. by governments and colonialists), and some of them very natural.

And the line between "fake and forced" and "natural" is not always clear. There's a whole lot of grey area in between.
amhoanna
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Re: Diphthongs

Post by amhoanna » Wed May 02, 2012 3:36 pm

Nicely put, Ah-bin. And beautifully written.

Sim, I agree with you in spirit, and almost whole-heartedly. There's one aspect where I must cold-heartedly carve out an exception, which is people or peoples switching identities in order to associate themselves with whatever is "high class". As for the State apparatuses, yeah, they must be stopped. :mrgreen:

The best tribes are blurred tribes! We should all be one people.
SimL
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Re: Diphthongs

Post by SimL » Wed May 02, 2012 4:15 pm

Hi amhoanna,
Sim, I agree with you in spirit, and almost whole-heartedly. There's one aspect where I must cold-heartedly carve out an exception, which is people or peoples switching identities in order to associate themselves with whatever is "high class".
Thanks :mrgreen:.

Well, one of the most awful cases of this I heard about concerns "my very own people", i.e. the Babas.

I read that at some stage during the Boxer Rebellion (or it could have been the Taiping Rebellion, though I think more likely the Boxer, because British interests were more involved in that case), some Babas (but then, some pretty influential Baba community leaders, I imagine) wanted to put together a contingent of young Baba fighters to go to China and help the British troops put down the rebellion. Apparently, they identified so strongly with the British that they advocated such a step. It never happened (thank goodness!), but the fact that the idea could even be raised fills me with disgust.

I would be disgusted to hear this about any group opposing the Boxer rebellion, because the moral high ground was obviously held by the people who opposed the importation of opium, and the cutting up of China into areas run by the major colonial powers. To hear that a group of Chinese wanted to do it is beyond forgiving. [I still get quite ashamed and angry thinking about it, to this day!]
Ah-bin
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Re: Diphthongs

Post by Ah-bin » Thu May 03, 2012 6:43 am

SimL wrote
What troubles me in discussions on this topic (I don't mean here, I mean in the world in general) is the idea that "race" or "*original*" ethnic culture is somehow "sacred", and that people giving this up is a betrayal. While they are very important aspects of identity, I think it's important not to become too fixated on them.
Yes, and if I were loyal to my 'race' and 'culture', I'd spend all my time researching Geordie folk-songs and sayings (my 'low culture') or Chaucer or Shakespeare (my 'high culture', or should it be Greek and Latin?) and less time nosing into the speech and literature of those with whom I share less genetic material!

Also, what I find interesting is how much of the 'traditional culture' that is upheld as sacred is romanticised, static, fossilised fragments of what existed before some other group came along to assimilate and colonise.
Amhoanna wrote
Nicely put, Ah-bin. And beautifully written.
Why thank you, I was worried that it was a bit of a rant! The fact that I have spoken to many Chinese who refused to believe that some Taiwanese went so far as to change their surnames, or were happy to speak to their families in Japanese because they got a stipend for being able to prove they were a kokugo katei 國語家庭 (national language family) always makes me desirous of pressing the point!
amhoanna
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Re: Diphthongs

Post by amhoanna » Fri May 04, 2012 2:44 am

The fact that I have spoken to many Chinese who refused to believe that some Taiwanese went so far as to change their surnames, or were happy to speak to their families in Japanese because they got a stipend for being able to prove they were a kokugo katei 國語家庭 (national language family) always makes me desirous of pressing the point!
Anyone who is willfully wrong deserves to have their face held down and rubbed in the grubby truth till they fess up! Esp. if they are willfully wrong en masse! :mrgreen:

A story about how far some TWese took the kokugo katei thing. A friend of mine from southern TW said she once went to visit an old Hoklo couple in the Toatiutia 大稲埕 district of Old Taipak. Their house was set up and decked out in full-on, old-school Japanese fashion. The gentleman refused to speak any language but Japanese, even though my friend didn't speak or understand it. My friend would speak in Hoklo and the gentleman would reply in Japanese, and then his wife would translate what he said into Hoklo. This would've been around the turn of the century, around the year 2000, fifty+ years after the Japanese left.
SimL
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Location: Amsterdam

Re: Diphthongs

Post by SimL » Fri May 04, 2012 10:33 am

amhoanna wrote:Their house was set up and decked out in full-on, old-school Japanese fashion. The gentleman refused to speak any language but Japanese, even though my friend didn't speak or understand it. My friend would speak in Hoklo and the gentleman would reply in Japanese, and then his wife would translate what he said into Hoklo.
Amazing! Thank you for sharing this information. That's far more extreme than the case I mentioned of the mid-30's guy. I would find that sort of chauvinism (the older man's) "questionable" even from a Japanese person!
amhoanna wrote:This would've been around the turn of the century, around the year 2000, fifty+ years after the Japanese left.
I'm so old that it hasn't yet fully dawned on me that 2000 could possibly be "the turn of the century" :mrgreen:.
FutureSpy
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Re: Diphthongs

Post by FutureSpy » Mon May 07, 2012 6:48 pm

I never thought Japanese rule would have such a huge impact on Taiwanese people (specially the elder ones).

The old lady I know in her 70's likes to sing Enka songs (she always compete on local competitions and still take classes) and she told me she likes Japanese culture, but that's all. Considering most Taiwanese Hokkien songs are influenced by Enka, I don't think it's that weird that he likes Enka. I always thought she spoke Japanese 'cos she learned it at school. That's partially true, but since she spoke Taiwanese at home (that makes her no 國語家庭, I guess), she forgot it and relearned after coming to Brazil and hanging out with Japanese people here. According to her, she finished 1st grade in Japanese, but then from 2nd grade on teaching medium suddenly changed to Mandarin w/o any transitions, so it was very confusing for her. But she doesn't seem obsessed about Japan at all. She even taught her kids Hokkien, and that's the language they speak at home (her kids don't speak Mandarin). There was also an Hakka old lady older than her who's always at the Taiwanese Association, and seems to speak some Japanese too (at least, she greeted me in Japanese a few times), but I don't know anything about her...

And there's also the Tainan Taiwanese's dad, who's over 90 now. As soon as he knew I was Japanese he tried on a few sentences, but then he told me he could speak Japanese before 'cos he had forgotten it. So he sang me a lot of Japanese songs (probably children songs). I was happy 'cos he even cared to change to Japanese (he speaks only Taiwanese), although I still can't help feeling a little bad about all that... Anyway, I'm yet to meet a Taiwanese obsessed about Japan (I hope I won't come across to any in lifetime).

BTW, just out of curiosity: what was the nationality of people in Malaysia during British rule? Were they ever considered British?
Yeleixingfeng
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Re: Diphthongs

Post by Yeleixingfeng » Tue May 08, 2012 9:00 am

RE: Amhoanna

Yes, they listen to Indonesian music. Personally, Indo-music is more pleasant to the ears, but as with Malaysian Malay songs, they kinda lack a specific climax point, or an emotional-breakout chorus - the songs are usually too fluid and remains such throughout. Then again, musical preference differ with culture. Just voicing my observation. ^.^

RE: FutureSpy

>Are 眞島 and 真島 pronounced differently?

>Yes, Chinese do consider ourselves as Chinese, including the English-educated, although we identify ourselves as Malaysian outside of Malaysia. I wonder if Japanese is taught openly in Brazil? Because here Chinese is taught as a subject in school, and we converse in Sinitic languages among ourselves, so that might be the fundamental reason for Chinese to separately be recognised as another race. We never mixed with the Malays well enough - there is always a barrier. (I'm sorry if anyone is offended here...) There are quite a number of Malay habits that we consider rude and sometimes, disgusting. It is not about eating with hands or the like, it is their lifestyle. I won't explain further than this, but.. You get the idea. >.< (No one side is to be blamed for, though.) That too is one very strong reason for the barrier.
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