[lg policy] China vs. Singapore: Language and Dialect: Matter of Life and Death?
bulbulthegreat at GMAIL.COM
Tue Aug 3 19:11:52 UTC 2010
Oh for the love of all that good and holy, somebody is once again
rediscovering the wheel/America/hot water. Isn't the subject covered
pretty well by most introductory linguistics coursebooks? The author
would be well advised to consult one and then they could avoid making
silly statements like:
"However in a linguistic sense, languages are not mutually
intelligible while dialects/varieties are"
I challenge everyone to find a sane linguist who would agree.
On Tue, Aug 3, 2010 at 17:26, Harold Schiffman <hfsclpp at gmail.com> wrote:
> Language and Dialect: Matter of Life and Death?
> I am currently undergoing a course on linguistics and our discussions
> on what constitutes a language or dialect particularly interested me.
> It seems they differ in two main aspects. Accordingly to
> socio-political contexts, languages are basically backed up by
> institution while dialects aren’t. This is the differentiation most
> people are familiar with. However in a linguistic sense, languages are
> not mutually intelligible while dialects/varieties are (i.e. under
> this differentiation, Cantonese and Hokkien would be languages and not
> dialects because speakers of each would not understand each other).
> When we talk about language and power, looking at context is extremely
> important to get a real sense of how people go about defining what is
> a language and what is a dialect. Take Cantonese for example. In
> Singapore most of us know it as a dialect but if you were to ask
> someone in Hong Kong or Guangzhou the same question, you can expect a
> very different response. Whatever relegated Cantonese in Singapore to
> mere dialect status then? Well, to put it bluntly: language policy.
> If we then take a look at China now, we can see a somewhat similar
> trend taking place but with very different reactions. According to
> this AFP report, more than a 1000 protesters have gathered in Hong
> Kong and Guangzhou to rally against the Chinese government’s attempts
> at promoting the national Putonghua (i.e. Mandarin) over the local
> Cantonese language (or ‘dialect’, according to the Chinese
> government). It seems highly unlikely the Chinese authorities will go
> very far at suppressing Cantonese the way Singapore managed to do in
> the past. The reasons are manifold but I think a key difference is
> this: the Cantonese speakers up north firmly see it as their regional
> language and will do anything to see that it remains as so.
> What do you understand to be a language or dialect?
> Is Singlish a dialect?
> What do you think is the future of dialects in Singapore? What is the
> future of Singlish?
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