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Sunday, January 15, 2006

I don't know mandarin... betrayal to my own race...

When I was young, my mum used to buy this Japanese weekly comic for me. However, the dialog of the comic itself is in mandarin, which is kind of a problem for me because I don't study mandarin in school. So, instead of understanding the comic, I spend my childhood period imagine the story line by looking at the picture box itself. Many people question my mum why she would buy a Chinese translated Japanese comic for me but I can see that she is trying her best hoping that I could learn mandarin from there. Night after night, she would sit down beside me, telling me stories, and explain what the character is trying to say but I guess, I wasn't interested at all. Instead, I was attracted more to the art itself and leave the imaginary to myself of how the story would go.

Living in a world where we are guided by other people thought, especially in a typical cultural tradition, I guess I have disgrace my family for being the only son who doesn't know mandarin when I myself am a Chinese. Relative would criticize us and people will look at us in a different ways and although my mum will smile back at me and ask me to ignore them, I can see trough her eye that she was hoping deep down, if history could be change, she would rather send me to a mandarin school instead. However, given the history itself, there weren't any option for her to send me to mandarin school because it is simply too far and luckily, there is this one famous Malay school in town which happens to be next to our house; just across the railway.

Anyway, after 20 years of criticism from relative, I guess me and my mum is immune to it and come to think of it, if given the choice to go back time; I guess I would prefer my mum sending me to the same Malay school rather than mandarin school. To me, I guess no matter what language I used, doesn't seem that important as long as I can get my message trough in a conversation. I can speak mandarin now, English and Malay, and although I'm not that fluent in any of the language, I guess at least when I talk, its kind of smooth sailing not like some typical mandarin student who come out speaking English like chicken got tie up in their neck.

However, it got me thinking, since the change of time and generation, English language have been put up as the language that kids nowadays should know. Probably for the sake of when they grow up and work, it might be helpful for them in term of professionalism and communication but does that effect the tradition ways of Chinese should know mandarin, or Malay should know Bahasa Melayu or even an Indian should know Tamil. Being exposed to a language that is not our root language, does that create problems, are we suppose to feel ashamed of ourselves or is it a betrayer to our own race? Having said all that, do current generations even care anymore?


Anonymous ebernie said...

Oh dear, I cannot imagine what triggered you to write such atrocities. Knowing other language means betraying your race?! Or NOT knowing your mother tongue is?! Both are very sentimental arguments that hold little value. How DO we be true to our race? By practising the cultures? Wearing traditional costumes? Following the many ceremonies? Learning the mother tongue?

Is it even important or relevant? I find that this question is more important, rather than whether we true to our race. Consider this: given an auto accident, and there were two victims with only enough time to save ONE person - one person being an unfamiliar Chinese person (my own race) and the other a Malay friend - I would no doubt, save my Malay friend. Being true to family, friends, society and yourself is what is important. Not RACE for crying out loud. We're all HUMAN.

Always being true to yourself is the most important. Holding on to values and principles is much more important that trivial issues such as culture and race. I would have no qualms to drop a certain cultural practice if that practice goes against my principles.

Btw, learning other languages are much like learning anything else. They are skills and gives the learned one an extra advantage. God I just wish I could speak Spanish, Japanese, French, Italian, Hindi AND Mandarin. Learn to embrace difference rather than shun them away.

An advice - your command of those 3 language might need brushing up ;) Try to keep 'rojaking' of the language to a minimal, use proper vocabulary (in the correct language) and use proper grammar if possible (yes, it is possible).

You certainly are correct when you said speaking in English projects a certain degree of professionalism. Speaking in broken English however, does not.

6:47 AM  
Anonymous ebernie said...

Just to be clear, I'm not saying dump all your cultures and language. I practice whatever is needed, because of family values, because of respect and love for my elders.

But NOT because of race. And certainly NOT because of other people's jeers as well.

6:51 AM  
Blogger HushNow said...

Wow... bernie... what provoke u to write a long comment... my point exactly, whether knowing the language or not, does it betray our own race or simply being true to one self, family or fiend is enough. Having say that, i thought that of all people you might know better. People used to tease us "banana", "Orang cina bukan cina" and etc and although you might not see it. Imagine this tease is a critism ten fold worst coming from my own relative. Imagine how people might took it, especially for my mum... is that fair or should we blame ourself for being so sensitif. What provoke me to write this title, well nothing actually... but i kind of agree wih you.. it have nothing to do with betraying your own race but im just stating why people could care or even be a issues at the first place...

10:51 AM  
Blogger cheng sim said...

haha =)
instead of thinking that im a betrayal to my own race...
...i always thought of myself as the new-modernised english-speaking chinese! member of the new Chinese minority.

there's few benefits of being a Banana:
1. the only chinese who aced her BM and Eng paper.
2. speak English more fluently compare to my other chinese counterparts

the reason why im a Banana is because im half kadazan and was raised in Sabah. not being exposed to my chinese culture thus, it somehow contributes to the reason why i can't speak chinese.

besides, there's SO many other chinese who can't converse in mandarin or cantonese or whtever.
you're not alone =)

11:00 AM  
Blogger HushNow said...

Cheng Sim,
Lol... nice way to put it... Yes, nowaday, quite a number of people doesnt really know their mother tongue well. But given the time, if it is needed, i guess we all will learn it.. not being force as a cultural thingy

11:16 AM  
Anonymous pelf said...

I can't read and write Chinese too, but I can converse in it. I got myself a pocket dictionary from Kinokuniya and started practising Chinese my sending SMSes to my Mum and Grandpa.

Wanna try?

11:53 AM  
Anonymous boringest said...

well...i don't think language is all that would have betrayed your race if you put it that way...and it can be learnt pretty quickly if you put your mind to it.

what about the thousands/millions of chinese who converted to other religions...from what i observed, the taoism/buddhism/ancestral worship most chinese malaysians practise holds bits and pieces of chinese tradition passed down from generation to generation (which even the china chinese have lost due to the cultural revolution), and we are quickly losing this beautiful part of it...

12:11 PM  
Blogger HushNow said...

wow... not bad... haha... i didnt bother much.. cant say.. just keep quite... wakakaka...

yeah.. tat the point.. many out there converted and doesnt seem to be a problem. in my post, i wrote i was raise up in a typical chinese traditional family.. so you could imagine how it felt like a betrayal to other people not knowin your own mother tongue. kinda like having daughter is not disireable in the olden chinese family.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Kampungkai said...

nevermind la bro, dun feel bad about it. It's good enough that u can communicate in mandarin.

For me, it doesn't really matter whether a chinese can read mandarin or an indian can read Tamil or not. In fact, modern ppl learn french, german, japanese, and spanish rite?

Luckily u didn;t get into Chinese School, torture man! Everyday got homework! Everyday got spelling! Everyday got 'buat-ayat'! and the best part - EVERYDAY GET ROTAN BY TEACHER! DAMN PAINFUL MAN!

10:04 PM  
Blogger HushNow said...

ouch... hehe.. at least now i got another one good reason i didnt end up in mandarin school huh.. hehehe

1:03 AM  
Anonymous BananaSatria said...

Be TRUE to YOUR race. Some people don't even know which race they belong to. They are always in the 'lain-lain' category. Be glad that you know who you are and where you come from.
Banana or watermelon or durian, face it, you lost something when you lost your mother-tongue. But I like looking at comics too and not reading.

11:26 AM  

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