We started teaching Cantonese at Penn more than a quarter of a century ago, and it has been a very successful program. Yale was teaching Cantonese long before us, and the title of this post is the same as that of a famous Yale textbook for the teaching of Cantonese by Parker Po-fei Huang and Gerard P. Kok.
I'm very pleased that more and more schools are offering Cantonese, and I'm hoping that the same will hold true for Taiwanese, Shanghainese, and other Sinitic languages. Penn offers a dozen modern South Asian languages, which shows that linguistic diversity is possible in universities when there's a will to make it happen.
Cantonese language instruction is booming in Hong Kong as well, and that is entirely appropriate, since — although Cantonese is the Mother Tongue of the overwhelming majority of the population — in recent years, it has increasingly been threatened by the rise of Mandarin as the language of the central government, which has been exerting ever greater control in the SAR (Special Administrative Region), particularly after the British returned the former colony to Chinese suzerainty in 1997. Read the rest of this entry »
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