Verna Yu: Cantonese, Please

An op-ed in the New York Times looks at the decline of in Hong Kong:

More and more, ambitious parents in Hong Kong are giving their children a head-start in by putting them into English-speaking play groups, kindergartens and international schools. At these elite institutions, Mandarin Chinese is sometimes taught as a second language.

As for the local Cantonese dialect, who cares?

I am saddened. What will happen to those age-old nursery rhymes our grandmothers taught us, the songs we sang at kindergarten, those Tang-dynasty poems that every preschool child was taught to recite?

And surely the classic tales of the “Twenty-four pious sons” — the stories that the Chinese have used to teach their children about the Confucian virtue of filial piety since the 14th century — can’t have the same cultural resonance when translated into English.

Besides, Cantonese carries echoes of ancient Chinese that no longer exist in the official Mandarin. It is a lively language full of colorful expressions.

It is our heritage, and if we don’t pass it on, who will?

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