Archive for Bilingualism

Fluent bilingualism in Singapore

[This is a guest post by an anonymous correspondent in East Asia.]

I thought you might be interested in taking on the ignorance of remarks earlier today by Singapore's minister of education. He's headed toward "like, wow" territory.

Basically, he was speaking about Singapore expanding a program aimed at reinvigorating the learning of what it calls "mother-tongue languages," which are the main languages of Singapore other than English — even though English is increasingly the mother tongue of citizens there.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (15)

Mandarin morphosyllabic annotation of a Taiwanese sign

Public notice in a ward in Tainan, Taiwan:


(Source)

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (17)

Can a person have more than one native language?, part 2

Based on these two tweets, this 85-year-old Swedish woman has at least two native tongues:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (5)

Can a person have more than one native language?

The following paragraph began as a comment to this post:  "How to maintain first and second language skills" (4/25/19)

How can a person acquire not just one, but two or more native languages? Now in China, some parents aspire to help their children learn both Chinese and English as their native languages. But, considering the drastic differences between the two languages, it seems to be quite a difficult goal to achieve, to use both languages equally well. A very interesting case I met is a 6th grader from an international school, a Chinese boy who spoke fluent English but stammering Chinese. He had to stop to organize his Chinese when trying to express complicated ideas. His parents are both native Chinese, and they sent him to an international primary school. There are undoubtedly many other students like him, since China has so many international primary and secondary schools. Their parents must have taken great effort making English the first language of their children. But why? And in the almost monolingual Chinese environment, I wonder if English as their first language could be as equally efficient as that of a real native speaker.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (51)

The reality of emerging digraphia

Paul Battley spotted this nice specimen of digraphia written inside the glass of one of those soft toy grabber machines in Taipei last week:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (7)

Sino-English neologisms

As I've mentioned before, Chinese feel that they have every right to experiment with English, make up their own English words, and compose their own locutions which have never before existed in the English-speaking world.  In recent years, they have become ever more playful and emboldened to create new English terms that they gloss or define in Chinese.  Here are ten such new English terms, or perhaps in some cases I should say modified English terms, together with their Chinese explanations:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (14)

"No" in Chinese

A sign warning against uncivilized behavior in the main bazaar in Urumqi, the capital of China's Xinjiang region (Bloomberg):

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (4)

The politics of "Maria" in Taiwan

During the last few days, there has been a huge furor over this sentence spoken publicly by the Mayor of Kaohsiung City, Han Kuo-yu (Daniel Han):

"Mǎlìyà yīxiàzi zuò wǒmen Yīngwén lǎoshī 瑪莉亞一下子做我們英文老師" ("Maria suddenly becomes our English teacher")

Newspaper articles describing the incident, which is now being referred to as the "'Mǎlìyà' shìjiàn「瑪麗亞」事件" ("'Maria' Affair"), may be found here (in Chinese, with video clip) and here (in English).

Mayor Han is notorious for his errant, flippant manner of speaking, but this instance — which he later claimed was a "joke" — quickly came back to haunt him.  To understand why this is so, we need to take into account a number of factors.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (18)

Whaumau

Thomas Lumley called my attention to the neologism and bilingual pun "whaumau", now a Twitter hashtag:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (30)

Wo'men's'da'y

Tong Wang ran into this picture today in Beijing:

image.png

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (2)

Creeping Romanization in Chinese, part 4

Overheard

After a race, one Beijing marathon runner asks another:

pb le méiyǒu  pb了沒有…? ("did you meet / match / make your personal best?")

méiyǒu 沒有 ("no")

wǒ de pb shì… 我的pb是… ("my personal best is…")

I don't even know if "pb" is used this way in English, but such usage of Romanization (abbreviations, words, phrases), which often amounts to Englishization, are widespread in China, particularly on social media.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (9)

English as an official language in Taiwan

I could see this coming years ago.  The writing was on the wall:

"Some subjects in Taiwan's schools to be taught in English:  As part of the goal of making Taiwan a bilingual country by 2030, some subjects in schools will be taught entirely in English", by Keoni Everington, Taiwan News, Staff Writer (2018/12/6/18)

That's quite an ambitious goal (a bilingual country by 2030), is it not?  Especially since English will be one half of the bilingual equation, while a mixture of Sinitic and Austronesian languages will together constitute the other half, though Mandarin will doubtless be the main component of the latter, at least initially.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (56)

Home party

Recently, Tong Wang's husband told her that he would not be home for dinner because he was going out with friends to this place:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (5)