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Late post on Chinese New Year Of The Tiger Thoughts / Learning our mother tongues. April 6, 2010

Posted by @Karen_Fu in China, Chinese New Year, Language.
Tags: , , , ,

The year of the tiger roared in on valentines day, 14 Feb 2010.

China’s progress during the past year or so has been swift. I have been following the highlights. One of the most recent achievements was the Vancouver Winter Olympics, where the Chinese are not well known to be strong holders of sports like figure skating, apart from Chinese American Michelle Kwan who had won the figure skating competition before. It does appear that the mainland Chinese wants to be the best of the best and they are well on their way to it. As for overseas Chinese like us, we have been repeatedly impressed by the motivation. Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong of Singapore had recently voiced that China may well be ahead of our expectations and urged Singaporeans to ride the train with China’s progress by mastering the Chinese language. A few months ago, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew voiced the same message. China’s demand on top Singaporean students are also a surprise to me. Noticeably on their demands for Students for entry to China’s top 3 universities are almost daunting, sending a distinct message : ‘I want your best of the best who are able to lead and learn in the very top 2%, nothing less’

Many local ministers raised the awareness and many local parents, students and the like responded. Special Assistant Plan (SAP) schools in Singapore has been started since 1978 which focuses in both English and Mandarin Chinese as first languages. They were only available to the top 10% students in Singapore. Today the percentage has risen to more than 30% of the yearly student cohorts. Personally I feel that it has responded a little late. Also I think as born ethnic Chinese, though overseas Chinese, the Mandarin language should have been paid first language level attention because we are ethnically Chinese regardless of any other reasons. It’s part of our roots and culture that we cannot afford to neglect regardless if the Chinese language was economically vibrant or economically in disarray. We should master it because it is our mother tongue. Nothing else. No one would have respected any of us if we do not even utter properly of our mother tongues. It’s given.

The demoralisation of learning Chinese during colonial years made parents forced their children to master the English language was the sole pragmatic solution to alleviating poverty. There was little choice for a struggling tiny country then especially after the British had left us in 1963. Today learning Mandarin Chinese is also about the economy but this time its about staying ahead and keeping up with the global competition.While this is adaptive change, it could have been better if it was for transformational change in the way we view a language. It really should be about keeping our roots. No one would look up to anyone who forsake one’s mother tongue. Wouldn’t it ?

Am writing and listening to Youtube videos on China and found this song, which translate into English means ‘March of the Volunteers’. It has a strong determined stance. It starts off with ‘Arise! All who refuse to be slaves’ signifies their first sole objective of rising up from what they left in History as low class citizens. That is a strong motivational force behind their rise.  Will stick this right below this sentence:

歌詞 (Lyrics)

reference: 义勇军进行曲

(簡体字) (Simplified Chinese)
起来! 不愿做奴隶的人们!
起来! 起来! 起来!
前进! 前进! 进!

(繁体字) (traditional Chinese)

Commentary on CCTV chinese new year.

Noticed a vast change in the comperes’ dress up from last year’s. It was only a year’s difference and there was already an obvious evidence that they’ve learnt fast from possibly critics on their fashion last year. Their apt adaptation was both impressive and ‘frightening’. 1 year’s difference shows exactly why. For a country that is not entirely westernized like Hong Kong and Singapore, the rate at which they are catching up is rapid. Check my post last year to make the comparison. China – an afterthought (Chinese New Year 2009)

I’ve also watched CCTV and I cannot help but to think our local Mandarin stations have already lost their place. CCTV is effectively billingual. It’s English Version of the programme http://www.cctv.com/english/special/10springfestgala/homepage/index.shtml and its Chinese version is undoubtedly the best.

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