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Ian_Lee

Linguistic difference in the Malay Peninsula

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Ian_Lee

Does anybody find the linguistic difference interesting when you travel in the Malay Peninsula?

When I traveled there 20 years ago, the people in the coastal cities like Singapore, Penang and Malacca spoke Minnan (Southern Fujiannese) while people in those inland cities like Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Taiping spoke Cantonese.

Are they still speaking the same languages today?

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Hokkien/Fujian and Cantonese are still spoken in these cities in Malaysia but Mandarin has become more widely spoken and popular among the younger generations. Because over years, people move from one city to another, instead of speaking in individual dialects, Mandarin became the common language.

Chinese News broadcast over national TVs are in Mandarin, no longer in dialect. Mini-series from Hongkong(Cantonese) and Taiwan(Minnanyu) are dubbed into Mandarin. These days, most youth do not know how to speak dialect.

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pazu

But a note to the Malaysian Cantonese, it's a little bit different from the Hong Kong version. Some vocabularies may have different meanings which can lead to confusion.

I met a Malay boy (~25y/o) in Peshawar last year and he told me, "我尋晚賴o左!" I thought, "Oh god, this young man shitted his pants yesterday, what a tragedy!" Then he told me more and I found out his stomach wasn't well and he JUST got a diarrhea, he didn't shit his pant...

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Quest

I've watched some Malaysian versions of TVB's drama tapes. The Cantonese commercials in those tapes sounded really weird. It was perfect Cantonese with somewhat different tones, not that many but enough to annoy your ears.

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blob

Yes, mandarin in malaysia doesn't have any sh/zh/ch sounds, just simplified to s/z/c. You think people living in southern china doesn't roll their tongue when speaking mandarin, wait till you hear the malaysian version. Personally, I like hearing malaysian mandarin though :) But I'm from malaysia, so thats a biased opinion.

It seems like KL ppl have a guangdong accent, while penang ppl have a fujian accent when speaking mandarin, and so on, depending on the original chinese dialect spoken in those places. Thats what some mainland chinese told me when hearing malaysian mandarin.

But also, I like it when we introduced local words into the cantonese language.

Examples are

bread - which is not min bao, but loti

everything is not - chuen bo, but sum ma,

one dollar is not - yat man, but yat kao

or better yet, no money, mo lui

and so on.

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Ian_Lee

Blob:

Way back I have watched some Cantonese movies produced in Malaysia. I think the most irritating word is "Yat Kao".

Because in HK vocabulary (I am not sure about Guangzhou's) "Kao" also means flirting (male-->female or female-->male).

Has it any relationship to do with ringgit -- the Malaysian currency?

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holyman

dunno whether 'kao' or 'lui' is malay or other chinese dialects. in neighbouring singapore i find the locals, minnan and teochew alike, used 'kao' and 'lui', except the pronouciation changed to 'kou'(therefore 'jit kou' for a dollar).

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blob

lui is definately from a dialect, I forget which, either teochew or hokkien, I think its the

former.

as for kao, I'm not sure where that can from though. its just used, and for some reason,

no one really borthers to ask of its origin.

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tara

well...."LUI" is Hokkien....

i am not a fluent Mandarin/Cantonese speaker but I think the "KOA" is a slightly higher tone then the "KOA" as in flirt.

"When I traveled there 20 years ago, the people in the coastal cities like Singapore, Penang and Malacca spoke Minnan (Southern Fujiannese) while people in those inland cities like Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Taiping spoke Cantonese - Ian Lee" - Very much still the same, but people can speak more dialects now as Joyce mentioned, Mandarin is a common language now. You even get Malays and Indians speaking fluent Mandarin and Hokkien.

i guess the Mandarin/Cantonese spoken in Malaysia sounds weird coz of the slang and certain words have been replaced with local words as quoted by blob.

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blob

Thanks tara, I always wanted to know which dialect lui came from :)

Yeah, come to think of it, kao for dollar is slightly lower in tone than kao for flirt with a

girl.

It is quite amazing these days, how many non-chinese can speak chinese in Malaysia. I think it is because more parents (malay and indian) are sending their children to chinese schools. I once saw a religous islam tv program on RTM 1 whose broadcaster was malay but which spoke really really good mandarin.

When I was young, I also met a few indian hawkers which spoke fluent and proper cantonese. They were saying stuff in tamil at one moment, and turned to me to sell things and suddenly came out with cantonese (with the kao and so on added in )

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Ian_Lee

I read from the news last year that all Chinese schools in Malaysia have united to oppose the government's proposed policy to change the medium of instruction of non-language courses (i.e. physics) from Chinese to English in their schools.

Why such resistance?

In contrary that in HK, many parents voiced strong objection to the "Teaching by mother tongue" policy adopted after '97 which mandated many schools to switch from English to Cantonese as the medium of instruction.

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Quest
Why such resistance?

In contrary that in HK, many parents voiced strong objection to the "Teaching by mother tongue" policy adopted after '97 which mandated many schools to switch from English to Cantonese as the medium of instruction.

Ever wondered why HK has so few top-notched scientists? Learning sophisticated materials in a second language might not be a good idea at all, considering most HK students are not even fluent in English.

They also end up being poor public speakers, because they cannot get their ideas across without referencing Mandarin and English vocabulary. Has any of you watched that 挺董大会? It gave me goose bumps to hear those people speak.

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Ian_Lee

Quest:

Please read the article that I just quoted in the Chinese History topic:

http://www.time.com/time/asia/magazine/article/0,13673,501040119-574945,00.html

It was the top-notched scientist in HKU, Dr. Yi Guan, that single-handedly persuaded Beijing to close down the $200 million wild game business in Guangzhou.

Actually I always wonder about the calibre of Mainland's top-notched scientists (at least in microbiology).

Last year when the scientists in HK and Germany found out that cornavirus was the cause of SARS, the scientists in Mainland still insisted that it was not.

Guess why WHO didn't hire any lab in Mainland but the lab in HK as its research center?

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Quest

That's a problem of facility and money. I don't want to list and compare renoun scientists from the Mainland and HK, because that's not fair, the mainland has a much larger talent pool.

I am not sure what languages you are fluent in, but assume that you do not know French and your French is 3rd grade level, and you are asked to tackle college level or graduate level physics in French. How can you possibly learn the stuff well with your 3rd grade level French? More than half of the English teachers flunked their standardized English exam. Can you assure me that the average students have no problems with their English lectures and texts?

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Ian_Lee

Quest:

That was not the problem of money and facilities but "FACE" when the Mainland top-notched scientists insisted that it was not cornavirus which caused SARS when the whole world found out so.

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Quest

It was indeed a problem of facility money, experience and management. We are talking about learning (I know we are not, roddy! :P) here. Does one learn better in his/her own native tongue? The answer is a certain yes.

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Ian_Lee

Quest:

Unless there is a credible result from certain surveys, I would not be certain that one would definitely learn better in his/her own native tongue in certain subjects.

A more likely open educational system should be to let the school themselves to decide on what kind of medium of instruction they should use which the HK education authority has recently decided.

So some schools may still continue to teach in Cantonese, some in English and some others in Mandarin.

If the parents think that their kids will not do well in certain types of school, they can switch.

And if the schools keep on losing student population, they cannot sustain in the long run and needs to change too.

I think it is justified that the Chinese schools in Malaysia stick to Chinese as their medium of instruction if they think it is best for them.

It is also justified for some schools in HK to switch to English or Mandarin if they think that is best for their students.

By the way, per your logic, since students in Guangdong speak Cantonese at home and educated in School in Putonghua, then such system cannot produce top-notched scientists either!

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Quest

Mandarin to Cantonese students in China is almost like first language.

I am not saying the system in HK can't produce good scientists; I am just saying it makes it a lot harder for the students to understand and analyze different concepts.

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pazu
Blob:

Way back I have watched some Cantonese movies produced in Malaysia. I think the most irritating word is "Yat Kao".

Because in HK vocabulary (I am not sure about Guangzhou's) "Kao" also means flirting (male-->female or female-->male).

Has it any relationship to do with ringgit -- the Malaysian currency?

I'm a native Cantonese speaker but somehow I couldn't really link the two KAUs together. They have exactly the same pronounciation (reply to Tara), but you won't think about SHIT when you hear SHEET.

Anyway, "KAU" (meaning flirting) is indeed another old Cantonese word, I mean outdated. People say "gai3" ( "界刀" ) nowadays.

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