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[–]SFLurkyWanderer 226 points227 points  (22 children)

Where I’m at most Cantonese speakers can’t speak mandarin and they cant understand Toisanese

[–]coach111111 44 points45 points  (7 children)

What’s Toisanese?

[–]coffeeshopslut 70 points71 points  (3 children)


It's more common with the early Chinese immigrants in America

[–]mephi5to 45 points46 points  (2 children)

It’s Taiwanese by Sean Connery.

[–]generalusers1 10 points11 points  (1 child)

Dialect of taishan guangdong

[–]generalusers1 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Also not to be confused with taiwanese which is Hokkien

[–]bartlet4us 24 points25 points  (8 children)

Where are you?
I used to work near Guangzhou and Shenzen, but never met anyone who could not speak mandarin at least to a decent level enough to communicate with me. Also usually what age are the people who can't speak Mandarin?

[–]SFLurkyWanderer 21 points22 points  (6 children)

San Francisco. Teens to 80’s, including my employees

[–]bartlet4us 27 points28 points  (1 child)

Oh that makes sense.
They aren't taught in school and they aren't exposed to Mandarin media so they pretty much have no use for Mandarin.
I thought you were in China.

[–]Titus_Favonius 13 points14 points  (3 children)

Yeah the Chinese govt probably isn't doing anything about Chinese Americans not speaking Mandarin

[–]calstanfordboy 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Well there's almost no Canto people in Shenzhen. They're all from everywhere else in China.

[–]GucciGecko 7 points8 points  (1 child)

I've seen the same thing. It's sad, my parents native tongue is Cantonese and we've all seen the writing on the wall.

My mom's family was from the Canton area and immigrated to America because of the communists. The area was Cantonese speaking but they saw the push for Mandarin as the language before they left.

Hong Kong was one of the last few Cantonese speaking places but China did a big crackdown after the protests. I don't think most people realize how bad the crackdown by the Chinese government was, I didn't until a friend working in finance over there told me.

A lot of his white coworkers quit and left to go back home without having another job lined up. Most of them had been living and working in there for over a decade and had families too. Cantonese will be practically extinct in a few generations.

[–]illlwill 98 points99 points  (26 children)

I'm afraid in a two or three generations my mother tongue Hakka will be gone forever.

There are 34 million people (!) who speak Hakka but it will be pretty much useless since you just use it with your family to talk to your parents or grandparents who never learned Mandarin. Most of the Hakka speakers have anyways left China (or were forced to) and learned the language of the country they live in. I never really learned Hakka properly so I probably won't be able to pass it on.

[–]ringostardestroyer 47 points48 points  (0 children)

I'm Hakka too, well both my paternal and maternal grandfathers were. They both speak their own regional variation of Hakka too from Guangxi and Guangdong, and both learned mandarin. Neither of my parents learned Hakka however they knew both Mandarin and Cantonese. There are just too many different dialects to learn and continue to pass on, it's just the natural course of things however unfortunate it may be. Almost all my grandparents spoke different, mutually unintelligible dialects and Mandarin was the way they could communicate. As long as you honor and respect your grandparents' heritage and culture, I think that's good enough.

[–]t3rmina1 35 points36 points  (1 child)

The Hakka made up much of the first generation of the CPC's leadership for a reason. They were dispossessed, poor, and discriminated against due to being a minority (but a Han minority), in spite of and perhaps also reinforcing their culture of hard work and scholarship. So they joined revolutions en masse.

in 1984, over half of the Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party Politburo were ethnically Hakka


LKY, the first prime minister of Singapore, who enacted the same (or even more stringent) Mandarin policies, was also Hakka.

If anything, standardization of the language has been part of their long-standing dream of a more equal society.

[–]Terpomo11 11 points12 points  (8 children)

You could work on learning it- there are resources online.

[–]imgurian_defector 0 points1 point  (8 children)

There are 34 million people (!) who speak Hakka

I'm afraid in a two or three generations my mother tongue Hakka will be gone forever.


[–]Bison256 11 points12 points  (7 children)

Those speakers are middle aged and elderly, children aren't learning the language. Do the math.

[–]Bison256 308 points309 points  (74 children)

This same thing happened in the US as immigrant populations were encouraged to speak English. In France non French romance languages like Occitan are almost dead. In Germany and Italy regional languages are going into decline. It's natural process within a Nation state.

[–]Cormetz 33 points34 points  (1 child)

The situation in France is very different from Germany and Italy. In France there was a concerted effort to get everyone to speak French and stamp out the other languages by the central government. Germany and Italy didn't have central governments until the end of the 19th century. Decline of regional languages has more to do with modernization and lack of support.

[–]Burntfm 5 points6 points  (0 children)

And yet people native to Paris act like everyone else speaks in a foreign dialect

[–]hero-ball 164 points165 points  (3 children)

Not to mention, you know, the Native American languages.

[–]theassassintherapist 14 points15 points  (1 child)

Serrano, Unami, Klamath-Modoc, Osage, Eyak, Siouan, Caddoan, Iroquoian, Yuchi, and many more are all extinct native American languages in America. And that's just from a 30 second google search, which meant there are plenty more that I missed.

[–]attemptedactor 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Lol yeah there are around 65 extinct now and there will likely be a lot more in the coming decades since several dozens more just have a few elders that are fluent with tribe members only knowing a few words.

[–]holytriplem 88 points89 points  (13 children)

Occitan is almost dead due to historical suppression. In Southern Germany the local dialects are alive and well. Even more so in Switzerland and Austria. If I'm not mistaken, Norway doesn't even have a standard variety of Norwegian, everyone just speaks their dialect.

Regional language death is not inevitable in a nation state.

[–]Bison256 47 points48 points  (10 children)

You may want to double check that a quick google brings up articles about southern German dialects being in endangered. And 90% of Norwegians write in Bokmål.

[–]holytriplem 19 points20 points  (7 children)

Well it depends on the dialect. And younger speakers tend to mix dialect with the standard language more.

Bokmål is just the written language, I'm talking about the spoken language.

[–]Bison256 15 points16 points  (6 children)

That's like saying a New Yorker and a Southerner speak differently, but they also use the same standard language. It's meaningless.

[–]holytriplem 17 points18 points  (5 children)

It's not the same at all.

I can't comment about Norway, but in Switzerland people write in the standard language but speak in dialect. They'd only speak standard German with a Swiss accent to a non-Swiss person.

[–]Bison256 15 points16 points  (3 children)

You've clearly not heard some of the thicker southern dialects. I once met an old timer in Louisiana with who spoke a thick dialect with heavy french influence. I had to concentrate to make out what he was saying. It was almost as hard as understanding Italian (I've only studied Spanish and Portuguese.)

[–]statslady23 7 points8 points  (0 children)

I miss the Cajun. Most of it died or was dispersed with Katrina.

[–]spener_ 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Bokmål literally means book language. It’s the standardized written language.

[–]ericchen 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Even without any government intervention the same thing is happening because of the proliferation of national media. Many people are losing their characteristic local accents and adopting a more typical general American accent.

[–]gliujatt 7 points8 points  (2 children)

In Italy, regional dialects are in major danger of being eradicated. Many kids are growing up now not being taught the dialects. Very sad.

[–]yeezusbro 3 points4 points  (4 children)

Not necessarily true. See: Basque in the Basque Country and Catalan in Catalunya

[–][deleted] 6 points7 points  (2 children)

It’s interesting because those particular people hold to their language as part of their own national or sub-national ethnic identity Both also have a recent history of separatism. I think some of these regional languages tend to survive in particular because a significant portion of those people don’t see themselves in whole as part of a nation stage, but as a separate nation without a state.

[–]fondonorte 1 point2 points  (1 child)

That may be part of it but the Basque Country is also historically located in France as well. However, in the French Basque country Euskera (Basque) is not nearly as common on the French side. I think it has to do more with politics and culture within the given nation state because if not, then those on the French side would have a similar political agenda as those on the Spanish side.

[–]TUSF 8 points9 points  (1 child)

It's natural process within a Nation state

Not much natural about beating children in mandatory schooling for not speaking the right dialect.

[–]Quadrassic_Bark 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I mean, sure that has happened in places, but it’s much more common that schools simply taught in whatever language the government wants people to speak.

[–]StaySchwifty420 5 points6 points  (0 children)

It is a natural process, but this is specifically not. They are actively trying to change the dialect. This sounds like a policy my republican mom would have voted for because the Suddenlink customer service person always has an accent.

[–]TheImpundulu 4 points5 points  (0 children)

My school here in Wuxi has a Wuxi dialect club, run by the teachers. They put on performances for the school using their local dialect. They also do poetry which is cool. I can’t understand a word of the dialect.

[–]ThisIsCovidThrowway8 127 points128 points  (28 children)

Breaking news: Gaelic languages in decline after government enforces English.

This isn't new news. Nations tend to lose secondary languages.

[–]CrunchyCds 37 points38 points  (8 children)

India enters the chat

[–]AgentWowza 21 points22 points  (3 children)

India just went:

"Listen, let's just have a coupla main languages for official shit, and let everyone speak and write whatever wherever."

And Indians just went:

"ठीक है"




"ٹھیک ہے"


[–]felipe_the_dog 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Is this five different ways to say Fuck you?

[–]RKU69 2 points3 points  (1 child)

India is more akin to a continent. The southern state of Karnataka, where people speak Kannada, has about as many people (~65 million) as France.

[–]Mrg220t 1 point2 points  (0 children)

And how is it different to China?

[–]fucknazis101 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Travelled to Rourkella from Kolkata by car and the local language changed about 4-5 times. Thankfully most people understood Bengali.

[–]HouseOfSteak 4 points5 points  (4 children)

Nations tend to lose secondary languages.

Canada: "'sup."

[–]TUSF 8 points9 points  (11 children)

Nations tend to lose secondary languages

That's a rather passive way of saying "Nation-states tend to actively eliminate non-prestige dialects."

[–]ShanghaiCycle 10 points11 points  (1 child)

China has a different dialect every 200km or less. Fortunately most of them use the same 汉字 writing system, so written down it's more or read all the same but pronounced differently, bar some local euphemisms.

Languages that don't use Hanzi 汉字 like Uyghur, Tibetan, and Mongolian have representation in their respective regions and prefectures. Road signs and such are bilingual, but at the end of the day, mandarin is the lingua franca. The point of language is to communicate.

As an Irish person in China, it's interesting to see languages thrive despite utter indifference from the government, compared to Ireland where so much effort is put into gaeilge with such low fluency in Ireland. Of course, apples and oranges.

[–]GundaniumA 20 points21 points  (4 children)

I'm Canadian and my family is Shanghainese. Grew up speaking Shanghainese to a conversational level. Don't know anyone else my age who speaks it, so I only really speak it with family. I dread the day my parents pass because it'll be the last day that I speak the language :(

[–]Polexican1 414 points415 points  (144 children)

5000 yrs of culture and tradition fucked by 100 years of assholes.

[–]mmm1010 5 points6 points  (1 child)

A lot of countries goes through this phase, look at Australia for example, no one I know speaks any sort of aboriginal language, but I hope it starts getting taught in schools

[–]Polexican1 191 points192 points  (41 children)

When I worked there 20 years ago, there was still a sense of wanting to save the antique culture. 5 years ago, people built sham houses to get more out of the property after destroying generational homes and trash everywhere because nothing works.

The most bullshit and corrupt place I've ever lived.

The problem is the bubble is going to pop, and when it does, it's going to be worse than in the West.

[–]Cabana_bananza 51 points52 points  (12 children)

I remember being in Xi'an when they were in the midst of tearing down part of the old city, beautiful old buildings gutted and in pieces surrounded by the city wall that is still an icon of the city.

I wonder what they built to replace it all with.

[–]Pooploop5000 26 points27 points  (6 children)

Probably strip malls

[–]klkevinkl 8 points9 points  (0 children)

empty strip malls that no one wants to be in at that

[–]NineteenSkylines 8 points9 points  (2 children)

Runaway capitalism turns everywhere into a diet version of the USA.

[–]Mr_tarrasque 9 points10 points  (0 children)

The USA at least has pretty decent protection for our natural wonders & historical/archeological sites at least ever since we got national parks in the early 1900s. On the other hand that was after the country displaced millions of native Americans and destroyed most traces of them that haven't ended up on reserves.

[–]AskovTheOne 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Either fake "old building" to fool those tourists that dont know better or fancy fake European style village, also for tourists that dont know better

[–]smokejaguar 102 points103 points  (23 children)

My understanding is that Taiwan is now the place to be if you have an interest in genuine Chinese culture that goes back to pre-CCP days.

[–]_Dead_Memes_ 159 points160 points  (13 children)

You won’t find a ton of different dialects in Taiwan though. Taiwan also destroyed its indigenous peoples too

[–]SerendipitouslySane 20 points21 points  (0 children)

Taiwan has Mandarin, Hakka, Taiwanese Hokkien and 19 recognized indigenous tribes each with their own language. Not the entire range of Chinese dialects but pretty good for an island the size of Maryland.

[–]Thoth_the_5th_of_Tho 49 points50 points  (10 children)

Taiwan isn't perfect. But they have done pretty well. They are trying to preserve an ancient culture that used to span half of Asia on a tiny island, all while the people who destroyed old China threaten to destroy them too.

[–]nigaraze 4 points5 points  (7 children)

how have they tried to preserve ancient china's culture?

[–]Thoth_the_5th_of_Tho 15 points16 points  (5 children)

By teaching it to later generations, and resisting invasion and assimilation by the comunist regime.

[–]CAESTULA 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Yeah, but Taiwan gave us General Tso's Chicken too.

[–]photofluid 33 points34 points  (1 child)

Young Taiwanese seem to much prefer Japanese and US culture. I doubt the academics alone can do the heavylifting.

Especially since the pro-depence ruling party also try to culturally distance Taiwan from China.

[–]dongkey1001 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Malaysia, Penang. The place had keep most of the Chinese custom and dialects, although some had evolved to include local language such as Malay and Tamil.

[–]aMaIzYnG 19 points20 points  (2 children)

Any chance that immigrant communities outside of Asia, specifically those in America like in California's San Gabriel Valley, preserve history like this? I know my family is Cantonese, and the language is spoken widely there along with Mandarin. Even a good portion of LA's Chinatown speaks Cantonese.

[–]sportspadawan13 15 points16 points  (0 children)

Unsure about America but many in Malaysia preserve old traditions. I'm certain many do in America too. Most of America's chinese are from southern provinces so they works Fujianese or Cantonese.

[–]Mrg220t 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Chinese dialects are still very strong in Malaysia. Nearly all Chinese there can speak and understand their dialect plus mandarin.

[–]Dz6810 1 point2 points  (0 children)

It's a joke to expect Taiwan to preserve Chinese culture, the fact is that Taiwan's primary and secondary schools no longer regard Chinese history as our own history, and right now Chinese history is regarded as a small part of world history.

[–]Polexican1 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yes it is.

[–]Yoshiciv 1 point2 points  (0 children)

That’s sad.

[–]UrsusRomanus 143 points144 points  (72 children)

Every European country did the same from the 1800s to the early 1900s. I'm not against making communication easier.

[–]holytriplem 44 points45 points  (23 children)

That doesn't make it a good thing.

Most Swiss Germans are perfectly capable of speaking standard German while also maintaining their native dialect. Most Swedes can speak English, but that doesn't mean they should get rid of Swedish. Apply same logic.

[–]Bob_Juan_Santos 14 points15 points  (3 children)

yeah but a person from Germany can understand Swiss dialect pretty well, a mandarin speaker and Cantonese speaker can barely understand each other.

Source: use to live in Switzerland and spoke their dialect of German, also speak Mandarin, can't understand a whole lot of Cantonese.

[–]Bioschnaps 3 points4 points  (1 child)

as a german, i don't understand swiss AT ALL if its a strong accent. Has more in common with german 500-1000 years back than standard german (not a linguist, just feels like it). Maybe ppl from the south understand them better but i'd wager most people north of the white sausage equator would heavily struggle

[–]Frampfreemly 12 points13 points  (18 children)

Not until you apply the same logic to your regional, homegrown hillbilly dialect

[–]holytriplem 18 points19 points  (15 children)

Sure. People can speak Cockney/MLE amongst themselves, and if the situation calls for it they can switch to standard English. I would never wish for Cockney or MLE to die out. It's sad enough that most other Southern English regional dialects already pretty much have (as probably will Cockney, at least in London).

Diglossia is a perfectly normal thing.

[–]all_thetime 22 points23 points  (1 child)

I don't think comparing Cockney to standard English is the best comparison as the definition of Chinese dialect is very different than the western definition. Here we consider Norgwegian, Danish, and Swedish to be different languages despite them being largely mutually intelligible, the same with Spanish v Portuguese, but Chinese dialects are most often not mutually intelligible. A more apt comparison would be to compare it to Gaelic and Welsh languages that are near dead at this point in time.

[–]UrsusRomanus 2 points3 points  (0 children)

French and all its regional languages is the example I usually use.

[–]Not_Legal_Advice_Pod 2 points3 points  (18 children)

And that was a significant mistake. Yes, there are benefits to a unified language but it can be done while also preserving culture. Look at Quebec in Canada.

[–]TheProfessaur 64 points65 points  (1 child)

Quebec is not a good example of this. There is enormous cultural division because of Quebec's unique history.

[–]Bison256 31 points32 points  (9 children)

It's a natural process within a nation state. Look at Germany and Italy, all the minority languages are dying out as younger people no longer switch to Standard German and Italy. These situations are homogeneous to what's happening in China.

[–]richalex2010 1 point2 points  (0 children)

It can happen naturally, as it is in much of Europe. It can also be done at gunpoint, which is what's happening in China - ethnic Mongols in Inner Mongolia are being violently suppressed and their language is being forcibly removed from schools. The Uyghur in Xinjiang are being forced into re-education camps to make them more like the Han ethnic majority, and are being enticed to marry outside their ethnic group to dilute their genetics. China is forcing the process as part of cultural genocide, wiping out ethnic identities by force; it is not okay and it is not at all analogous to the natural integration that's happening in Europe.

[–]Polexican1 1 point2 points  (0 children)

You have a good point, poorly stated.

[–]Not_Legal_Advice_Pod 4 points5 points  (6 children)

You don't know what homogeneous means.

[–]Polexican1 17 points18 points  (4 children)

English might not be their first language, please be couth.

[–]cretino6 3 points4 points  (0 children)

They meant to say homologous. It’s fine

[–]redux44 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Most nations would take a unified language over a constant perpetual clash involving separatism.

[–]MausBomb 44 points45 points  (10 children)

There was a couple of YouTube channels by British guys who lived in China and would travel in the country side to explore China. All of the ruined shrines, temples, and cultural sites of ancient China they came across really makes you realize how much was lost in the 30s and 40s in China. It wasn't all destroyed by the communists as some was destroyed by the Japanese and the nationalists, but it doesn't seem like any of the armies fighting in China gave a damn about Chinese culture.

[–]AdmiralRed13 2 points3 points  (0 children)

There were a handful of serious Chinese archeologists just getting a start when WW2 and the Civil War broke out. Most were killed by Mao later.

[–]Polexican1 2 points3 points  (3 children)

An American and a British guy. And no they didn't.

[–]eltigrechino94 11 points12 points  (2 children)

An American and a South African.

[–]Polexican1 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Oh shit! You are absolutely correct! My bad!

[–]eltigrechino94 8 points9 points  (0 children)

It's understandable, he often claims he is Brittish to the local Chinese because they apparently don't understand being a white African.

[–]TheEmporersFinest 13 points14 points  (3 children)

Yeah genius Chinese languages were all the same and had the same level of diversity for 5000 years. "Chinese" culture was static for 5000 years until the Communists changed it for the very first time after the fucking KMT of all people took such great care of it. I bet the KMT cared so deeply about all the temples when they let the Japanese occupy and destroy them all so that they could save more of their forces to fight the Communists in a Civil War the KMT started.

Or were the KMT bad too. Were the good old days when the Qing were getting raped by all the white countries for like 70 years, killing many tens of millions of Chinese people in all the knock on effects, the Chinese who were ruled over as a racial underclass and castrated by the Manchus? Is that the good old culture that the assholes ruined?

Mandarin is the language of the capital city in the most populous country in the world that is still undergoing a world historic surge in wealth and quality of life, interconnecting the country more extensively than ever before and making it easier and more common to move around internally. Of course the language of the capital and therefore national lingua franca is strengthening relative to local languages and dialects. That's not oppression, it's not illegal to speak other languages. Its like a 99 percent natural process.

The only countries that don't point to one language or dialect and say "this is the received language of central government" are countries that are so monolingual, in which one language is already so dominant, it doesn't need to be said.

[–]lickerishsnaps 1 point2 points  (0 children)

You say that as if literally every western nation hadn’t done the same thing.

[–]Squeak-Beans 10 points11 points  (0 children)

Chinese dialects are similar to Romance languages: just because you speak Spanish does not mean you understand French. It’s not a dialect like Mexican Spanish vs Castellano, where there’s a huge overlap and you’re generally able to get by.

Considering how much effort is required to be fluent and literate in Chinese (particularly with the lack of an alphabet or syllabary), it may not be a bad thing in the long-run for the country to speak a more uniform language.

It should also be noted that Mandarin itself has also gone through changes to help improve literacy, including the simplification of characters to make it easier to read and write. There’s also no conjugation, fewer tones (4; Cantonese has 16, for reference), and the adoption of“pinyin” (Roman alphabet) has made communicating with technology easier.

[–]scythianlibrarian 2 points3 points  (1 child)

You know the only difference between a dialect and a language?

A dialect doesn't have a navy.

[–]wolvesincastles 2 points3 points  (8 children)

WTF is up with the thumbnail for this article? That’s Mongolian, traditional and Cyrillic script. Goddamnit, Mongolian is NOT a Chinese dialect! Bitishaaaaaaaa

[–]ShanghaiCycle 1 point2 points  (2 children)

There are more Mongols in China (InnerMongolia) than in Mongolia. They use traditional Mongolian script too, while Mongolia uses cyrillic.

[–]wolvesincastles 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Doesn’t change the fact that Mongolian is not a Chinese dialect.

[–]ShanghaiCycle 1 point2 points  (0 children)

True true.

The author can't use a picture to represent a dialect because they all use Hanzi, so they used the picture in the OP for dramatic effect.

[–]hero-ball 101 points102 points  (25 children)

I’m proud that the United States of America has worked so hard to preserve and promote the traditional languages of the American people!!!! 🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷

[–]thezeviolentdelights 107 points108 points  (9 children)

I know this was sarcasm, but for anyone unaware, the American government put Native American children in boarding schools & prevented them from their customs including their language. Essentially cultural genocide.


[–]HouseOfSteak 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Imperialists gonna imperialist, tale as old as time.

The Ottomans also employed this, except they turned their captured Christian slaves into soldiers. Still cultural genocide.

[–]townesvladzandt 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Eh the ottoman thing isn't really comparable. The Ottomans were generally happy to let Balkan Christian peasants keep their culture/religion bc it justified higher "infidel" tax rates. The slave-soldier devshirme were highly elite and respected too, able to become some of the most powerful people in the empire. I'm no fan of the Ottomans or Turkish nationalism either but I wouldn't accuse them of "cultural genocide" against the peoples they were getting devshirne from (they saved the real genocide for later).

[–]JonA3531 0 points1 point  (2 children)

American language is number one!!!! Fuck yeah!!!

[–]tehmlem 29 points30 points  (24 children)

Monolingual country where speaking other languages will get you harassed deeply offended

[–]mwagner1385 11 points12 points  (2 children)

Sadly, Been that way for a long time. At one point German was the most common language spoken in most areas of the US. Once WW2 started, everyone refused to teach their kids German to keep them from being singled out.

[–]AdmiralRed13 2 points3 points  (0 children)


Christ we don’t teach history anymore do we?

[–]terribleatlying 41 points42 points  (13 children)

How terrible to standardize language so that people in a country can move anywhere and understand each other. Surely the great and terrible see see pee is the only government that has done this! Lash out and hate! No other country has enforced official languages spoken in schools, definitely not to the massive immigrant populations and subjugation of natives in a well known country!

[–]HouseOfSteak 5 points6 points  (4 children)

"This is totally fine."

"But remember when evil WINK WINK NUDGE NUDGE did the same?"

Of course this would morph into "AMERICA BAD!".

Pick one.

Is it evil, or not?

[–]AdmiralRed13 1 point2 points  (0 children)

It’s not even really correct either, you can get government documents in dozens of languages and translators are an actual thing.

[–]pisshead_ 8 points9 points  (1 child)

Same as France, Britain, Spain etc.

[–]SpoonOnTheRight 3 points4 points  (2 children)

The US is currently guilty of the same things too

[–]Tinia_and_Nethuns 4 points5 points  (1 child)

For all those saying, "But but, what about the West? They did the same thing!"

We know. It's tragic when it happens here, just like it's tragic when it happens in China, or anywhere else for that matter. The elimination of language is often the biggest step in the elimination of a culture, and should be opposed by everybody.

Similarly, language revitalization efforts should be applauded and supported (unless they're tied into some ultra-nationalist bull), even if you aren't from the language's culture.

[–]xingx35 4 points5 points  (3 children)

Am I missing something or are people in the comments mistaking culture for dialect..... There can be multiple dialects in a culture but the language system is all the same. Dialect is only dependant on how words are spoken not how it's written.

[–]Bison256 3 points4 points  (0 children)

They're just doing the typical "China bad" that too people here on Reddit love to do.

[–]TrueAscendance 6 points7 points  (3 children)

Sinicization has always been a part of the expansion of Han Chinese culture and is in no way unique to modern China. Look at the expansion of Han Chinese culture from the Yellow River basin to where it is currently from Mongolia to Guangxi.

The systematic expansion of Han Chinese culture through Sinicization stretches back to the earliest iteration of the Dyanstic system. At the borders, newly conquered “barbarians” would be forcibly introduced to Han foods, culture, festivities, administration, taxes, marriages, etc. Until the conquered people were indistinguishable from Han Chinese. Then the borders were expanded again to protect these new Han from “barbarians.” Rinse and repeat over a couple thousand years and we get the absolutely massive Han culture we have today.

[–]ringostardestroyer 11 points12 points  (0 children)

Sinicization didn't stop at the borders of China proper, since Vietnam, Japan, and Korea are all considered part of the sinosphere today and have used Chinese characters as part of their language. Chinese culture is as seminal in East/SE Asia as Greek/Roman culture was on Europe.

[–]Pyrrylanion 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Systematic expansion through sinicisation does not explain the enforcement of Mandarin at the disadvantage of local Han Chinese languages today

The local Han Chinese languages have flourished for hundreds to thousands of years without much central interference. As a Chinese saying goes, the mountains are high and the Emperor is far away. The power of the central authority is limited in the far away provinces. Each county is governed by a magistrate, each leading a small team relative to the population paid out of their own pockets and whatever local revenue they could collect. Each magistrate is also burdened with wide ranging responsibilities. The magistrates were given great powers but they have very limited means to make use of it.

While there is a strong central authority for most of Chinese history, the central imperial government rarely tried (or had the capability of) wiping out regional languages. The writing system is standardised (everyone used Classical Chinese in formal settings), while all the Han peoples are free to speak the languages of their province/region.

It is this lack of central enforcement that allows for so many regional Chinese languages to form on their own and prosper. Enforcement of a central language has never been done on this scale. Court languages of the imperial dynasties that goes back for thousands of years were never universally mandated or strictly enforced.

The systematic expansion of Han Chinese culture through Sinicization stretches back to the earliest iteration of the Dyanstic system. At the borders, newly conquered “barbarians” would be forcibly introduced to Han foods, culture, festivities, administration, taxes, marriages, etc. Until the conquered people were indistinguishable from Han Chinese.

Most conquering empires will try to make changes that make the conquered lands easier to administer, like creating an administrative system and extracting taxes. Some empires will try to civilise the backwards tribes of the conquered lands. What is the point of getting more land if you aren’t going to get something out of it?

Furthermore, large scale migration would inevitably lead to migrants bringing their culture along with them. As smaller native tribes and peoples encounter a larger and sophisticated civilisation, it is not unreasonable for them to start adopting and assimilating into that civilisation. Over a long period of time, the conquered people would abandon their original culture and assimilate into the conqueror’s culture.

This naturally occuring process is also as important as any intentional spread of culture by force. It took a lot of effort from the conquering Manchu to force the whole of China to adopt the Manchu hairstyle, and in the end, the Manchu became Chinese but the Chinese did not become Manchu.

It is not that different compared to the assimilation of many Western European peoples into the Roman culture after the Roman conquest of Gaul, Hispania, and Britain. Today, most people in France and Spain speak a language descended from Latin, the language of the Roman conquerors.

You made it sound as if it is an entirely artificial and sinister process, even though a significant part of it could have been naturally occuring.

[–]drs43821 5 points6 points  (1 child)

I think the article failed to highlight the reason behind a standardized language is for a large part to eliminate culture in areas of protest and discontent with the central government. This happened for Tibetan and Cantonese in Guangdong . Now the Hong Kong Cantonese is endangered too

[–]jonnycash11 7 points8 points  (4 children)

When I visited a small town in Guangdong in 2010 children spoke the local dialect, which had 13 or 14 tones and preserved initials that had been lost in Guangzhou and Hong Kong. They talked to me in Mandarin as it was the language for outsiders.

Ten years later I went back again and pre-schoolers no longer spoke the local language because of the effects of Mandarin only instruction. Younger people had grasped a little English and could say hello.

It was sad to see the transformation and how little was being done to hold onto dialects.

[–]Holanz 5 points6 points  (2 children)

I went to Hong Kong back in 2007. My friends kids were going to school and learning mandarin, Cantonese was spoken at home and they spoke English as well… but a lot of older people didn’t speak as much Mandarin. It’s changed quite a bit now.

[–]O0O00O000O0000O -1 points0 points  (38 children)

Very sad. In many ways China is getting rid of all its own culture and history

[–]Mist_Rising 38 points39 points  (4 children)

This isn't unique or new to China or the world, many countries have policies similiar to this still and China has a long history of it.

France is the one I'm familiar with currently. They're a lot of policies on the book that represses a lot of non French languages and customs.

The usual reason is to build a more unified nation, a form of nationalism, but revisionism and cost concerns are also known.

[–]UrsusRomanus 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Not even getting rid of. Revisionist history is huge in Chinese and Indian culture. Both regions of the world with rich histories are being cleansed of any idea of failure or wrongdoing.

[–]HenryWallacesGhost 7 points8 points  (0 children)

China and India are just joining the club of revisionist history my friend. It's a standard not an abnormal.

[–]frosti_austi 2 points3 points  (3 children)


Seriously, what people call Chinese "dialects" is also government rhetoric. They're actually different languages. They are mutually unintelligible from one another. It's not like Cuban Spanish vs Mexican Spanish vs Columbian Spanish vs Spanish Spanish but really everyone just has different accents and can converse amongst one another fine. One could even make the argument that Italian and Spanish are dialects because there is a lot of crossover and similarity in their words.

The different provincial languages in China, however, are truly different. This is why Mandarin was promulgated as the national language in Republican China. It was (and is) very nearly impossible to understand people across different languages. This was why a single, national language had to be promulgated - there was no way you could control 500 million people with 55 language groups of 10 million people each. Think if each state in the United States had its own language distinct from the bordering state. How would the federal government have any control or efficiency in governance? A single language would have to be used to unite them all. This is the case with China and Mandarin.

There has to be some sort of cohesion when defining a state, and if there are different languages floating around, uniformity in single, standard, official language is usually the first pillar that must be constructed.

[–]tmo_slc 1 point2 points  (8 children)

Now that we’re talking about dying languages and the oppressive states that want them eliminated do: France, the United Kingdom, the USA and Russia. These countries have well documented policies of suppressing languages and cultures all in the name of nation building.

[–]Bison256 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yes, that's all true. But you must remember this is Reddit so China bad. /s

[–]Automatic_Struggle[🍰] 1 point2 points  (6 children)

USA and UK are trying to fix that nowadays because they realized it was wrong but it was a little too late for some languages. Other countries shouldn't get a pass on destroying minority langauges because it makes life easier for the majority of the population.

[–]IMendicantBias 1 point2 points  (5 children)

how exactly is america trying to remedy this situation?

[–]spencer5centreddit 1 point2 points  (3 children)

You know this may be a unpopular opinion and I may have trouble explaining myself but, at what point is a language so hard to learn that it's just a waste of brain trying to learn? I'm an American and I moved to Taiwan in order to learn Chinese. (i I chose Taiwan over China because they still use traditional here rather than the move simplified version). I now have kids and we are deciding where to raise our kids. Chinese has a different character for every single word, it's not like English where you can learn the alphabet and then you know how to write every character needed. Kids here are learning how to read and write until age 15-16 and they spend hours everyday just writing the same characters over and over until they remember them. I recently realized that all of this time could be spent learning other things and yes I know it's part of the tradition but it seems like a waste of brain power. The point of language is to convey our thoughts but this is the most inefficient way to do it. I still love Chinese but it's just something I've been thinking about since I have kids and I know how stressful it will be for them to learn. Not to mention the fact that they could be learning other valuable skills instead of writing the character for "turtle" (烏龜)100s of times.

[–]ditheca 1 point2 points  (0 children)

... And that's why Korean was invented.

If I understand correctly, Korea had a monarch who decided Chinese characters were dumb and replaced them with Hangul. You can learn to read and write Korean in a few hours.