4 Dec 2022
I heard some of the school girls moaning over the Mandarin assignment they had to hand up. One of them was supposed to be their “saviour” because she takes “Higher Chinese.” I found the term “Higher Chinese” amusing. I thought it would be more appropriate to call the subject “Higher Mandarin,” after all they are studying Mandarin. Chinese is a race with many variants (about 302) of the same language, eg. Cantonese, Hokkien, Kuek, Hainanese, etc. Mandarin is but one form though it must be said that it is to be the “commonly” spoken (pu tong hua). The lack of precision in terms used is not confined just to the lay people; even the Ministry of Education makes such an assumption.
I really must urge members to learn to use terms as they meant it to be. The danger of being vague in our language brings forth discord and misunderstanding. People do disagree over issues mainly due to wrong premises. For example, the evolution theory. In your mind, you start to think about the theory that man evolved from monkeys, and further back to the big bang. This is but one variant of the evolution theory albeit the most commonly known. Another variant is that mankind does adapt to their surrounding and evolve accordingly to survive in that environment, eg. people living in the tropics as opposed to those living in the arctic. From the different in premises and without stating it, two people can get into a heated argument. Also, imprecise terms breed misrepresentations and misunderstanding. Therefore, it may be better to keep one’s silence unless we can make it very clear. However, nothing is better than it coming straight from the horse’s mouth.
In a society where people are used to messaging language and cannot spell correctly, or deliberately not spelling correctly, misunderstandings are time bombs ready to explode.
Let us be very careful with the way we use terms and say things in order that we may live harmoniously.
In Christ’s service,
我听到一群女学生在为她们需要交上的华文作业哀叹。其中一位似乎是她们的“救主”，因为她上的是“高级华文”课程。我觉得“高级华文”（Higher Chinese）这个名词很有趣。我想应该称这门课程为“高级华语”（Higher Mandarin）更加贴切，毕竟她们学习的是华语。华族是一个源自一种语言进而演变出许多种语言（大约302种）的民族，例如，粤语、闽语、客语、琼语，等等。华语则是其中的一个形式，虽然必须说它是“普遍”被使用的语言（普通话）。对词汇缺乏精确的应用并不局限于一般平民；即使是教育部也会作出同样的假设。