04 April 2010

Chinese, not just English

It is not only English that is accused of killing national languages (called hegemony in critical language), but the language that is spoken and read by even more people - Chinese. Here is the lament of Chong-goan Lim, a writer in Taiwan:

"今仔日台灣文壇為何猶未寫出不朽的精采的作品, 除了一寡因素之外, 就是作家忽視母語, 輕視母語,… 一個無自信的人, 怎有才調寫出不朽的精采的作品, 結果也只好乖乖做文化的屬民, 文學的奴隸。所以今仔日的作家, 著愛重新整合創新台語, 按呢, 才有才調寫出現時現地醞釀佇心靈中的世界。

"Why does immortal work still not occur in the literature of Taiwan? There are some factors: one is that our writers ignored and looked down our own mother tongue because they were not confident of their vernacular. How could a writer without any confidence create an immortal work? Consequently, they had to subordinate themselves to Chinese culture and become the slaves of Chinese literature. So, today, we Taiwanese writers have to devote ourselves to literary works in Taigi. Then, we will be able to describe our world in our mind.

"台灣文學就是愛用台語來寫…台灣文學就是台灣人用台灣人的母語寫的文學…台語文學就是台灣文學。(Lim 1990)

"Taiwan Literature must be written in Taigi…Taiwan Literature is the literature written in the mother tongue of Taiwanese people…Taiwan Literature is Taigi literature."

Historically, linguistic superiority or prestige follows economic and/or political superiority. Only creative writers (by their nature as creative writers) can rise above the common beliefs of their age and see that languages need not be hostage to economics nor politics. We have to be careful, as literary critics, not to be carried away by the stupidity (yes, for that is what it is) of non-literary "intellectuals" who never seem to realize that economics and politics come and go, but art stays. Who remembers the GNP of the Greece of Sophocles or even the England of Shakespeare? Who remembers (without looking it up) the name of the American President during the time Nathaniel Hawthorne was writing The Scarlet Letter?

1 comment:

  1. Exactly!!! ^__^

    I am blogging in Taigi.