[quote=“Sir Donald Bradman”]That is, once they’ve spent a few years developing decent language skills, they will be considered ‘Chinese’ or ‘Taiwanese’, whereas ‘whites’ (and other ethnically non-Chinese) will never, never be thought of as Taiwanese, even if they speak and write Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hakka and a few aboriginal languages perfectly
That is, if these ABC’s EVER, EVER speak perfect Mandarin!! Let alone Caucasians. I challenge anybody on this board who aren’t native Taiwanese or grown-ups to raise your hand if you got so much going in your Chinese/Mandarin/Taiwanese combo that you think you could pull it off faking as a true native Taiwanese both on the web presence(with their popular telnet BBS sites) and on the phone for an extended period of time (say, everyday for a month?)
I probably won’t see anybody’s hands. If there is, there are very, very few. Most everybody can never pass the test.
What? You think you have mastered the language in the level that you can immediately understands the most hip and witty sayings flashed on tv ads every now and then and actually understand its etymology and even invent your own buzz? How many of you can stand in the ad industry, creating your own ads catering to the taste of the general publics or teens?
Let’s face it! I would dare to say it’s almost impossible. And it’s not surprising. For those of us who weren’t grown up here, we haven’t been through the same expriences that the natives have been through. We speak different experience and see things in different angles. We were brought up differently, and we’re forever shaped by our past experiences which just ain’t gonna change. And it sticks with not just how we looked and how we dress, but also how we acts and how we speak in a subtle but noticeable ways. It affects us even today! At the same time we’re assimilating into the culture, we’re also in touch with external cultural influence that continue to wedge us further. Why that couldn’t be more apparent. We’ve contacted media sources not written in Chinese, yet the majority of the Taiwanese can only obtain information in Chinese, it’s no wonder they’re more shaped by the culture than we’re. No wonder we’re feeling alienated. We’re in touch with things different from them even when living right here in Taiwan.
How many of you can find an idea in which you can express in your native language, but no so with the Chinese as the medium? I doubt even for people who consider themself profficient in Chinese that if you serious pounder into it you would find a few cases?
Language is NOT just a communication tool: it is a media, a platform on which you build your thoughts/culture/ideas upon. How many of you can “THINK” without actually rehearsing the words in your mind? I mean when you’re thinking, aren’t you actually think in a language? Can you be not using any language and do the thinking? Often an idea in one langauge cannot be directly translated to another language. A linguist may balk at this idea. But I would say it’s impossible to translate completely some strong culturally-tied idea without losing the connotation, since you would be taking things out of context, away from the history background, the assumptions that people make when speaking about an idea.
It’s impossible to untie a langauge from it’s culture. Since I’m a tech guy, I’ll use a some computer analogy. Windows and X Windows interface are pretty much the same. They does the same thing. They accomplish the same job (suppose proper softwares and hardware exists on both platform). Yet the look and feel of an application native to one platform cannot be ported to the other and made to be felt at ease to the user of another platform without changing the structure of it. Gimp opens up with many Windows. Works OK with Motif users (I suppose, I’m not one myself.) Feels rather awkward, maybe even stupid, when you’re using Windows.
OK maybe that’s not a good analogy but I just had to rant about Gimp. =b What I wanted to say is that popular usage of one language is inextricablly tied to its cultural roots. Try to explain filial piety(