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.

God bless,
In Christ’s service,

Barry Leong

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。

我确实要请求会友学习按着词汇的字义去使用这些词汇。含糊不清的使用语文所带来的危机就是造成不和及误会。人们会因为立场的不同而对各种话题产生异议。举个例子,进化论。在你的头脑里开始想到猴子演变成为人的理论,然后再往前追溯。其实这只是进化论中最广为人知的一个演变。 另外一个则是人类因为要适应周围环境,进而演变才能在环境中生存,例如,生活在热带地区的人与生活在北极的人是不同的。来自不同的立场,加上没有说明,两个人就可以进入一场激烈的争执。另外,不精确的词汇也会产生曲解及误会。因此,除非我们可以清楚说明,否则宁可保持沉默。无论如何,没有什么比由当事人亲自讲述来得更好。




Barry Leong

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