Let's make sure we know where we're heading to. If I am not mistaken, our discussion began with "parents in Xiamen refuse to converse with children in Xiamen variant". Let's not confuse ourselves here. Frankly, I do mean average people. If Hokkien speakers ourselves do not take pride in the variant we grow up with, it is for sure that we don't expect any newcomer to do so.xng wrote: We are not talking about intelligent people like you or the many linguists here who are obviously, above average in IQ.
We are talking about the average person who even have trouble grasping one language let alone so many variants.
You cannot quote yourself as an example of 'average' person. Few people in Malaysia can write as well as you or the members in this forum in English.
The biggest question mark I have in this topic is, under what circumstances will one be confused by variants in Hokkien ? If one tries to pick up Hokkien, he or she must be either interested in it, or is living in a Hokkien-speaking region. If he or she just happens to like the language, I am sure variants will just make them feel more excited. If he or she lives in a Hokkien-speaking region, why are they not treating local variant the "standard" ?
Secondly, what exactly is the major difference we see from Hokkien variants ? I personally thought we were talking about i being u, e being ue, iunn being ionn, etc. Those actually have a pattern to follow. British, American and Australian English actually sound like 3 different languages to a newcomer. I live with Chinese people who never go overseas, who have very limited exposure to English variants. One thing I know, most people in Xiamen learn American variant. When they leave school, they will be facing hearing problem when they try to watch a British or Australian movie. Unless they're still not ready in the language, or they should be able to pick up 70% and spend more effort to fill up the missing 30%. That's my personal thought.
If one tries to learn Hokkien, again, please learn the variant one is most likely going to come in contact with. If he or she lives in Zhangzhou, please don't bother about Xiamen or Quanzhou before he or she is ready to speak. When he or she is ready, I don't think absorbing the remaining differences in other variants will be any burden.