ZHAO LE A citizen of Guilin in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region
ZENG JIN A teacher in Guilin
WANG ZHENJUN Professor with Zhengzhou University
I strongly encourage children to learn indigenous dialects. I am from Gansu Province in northwest China and my husband is from Guilin. So I want my daughter, who is now one and a half years old, to learn both Guilin and Gansu dialects so that she knows the culture of her two hometowns.
In my opinion, dialect indicates a person’s affection to his or her hometown. However, nowadays, a large number of people from different places are flooding into big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. To better integrate into the cities, they gradually pick up Mandarin and lose their dialects. It’s very sad.
It’s always pleasing to meet someone from your hometown. One will feel cordial when he or she hears local accent in a foreign land. Dialect is a reminder of who we are and where we are from. As a primary school teacher, I think students should be encouraged to learn indigenous dialects. Nowadays many parents speak Mandarin with their children and they encourage their grandparents to speak Mandarin with their grandchildren at home. In school, students learn Mandarin and English. Though it is convenient for people to communicate in Mandarin, nothing can replace the vibe and beauty of indigenous dialects. Proverbs and slang are usually rich with local sound and interesting to speak. They all require dialects to express their full meaning. For instance, dialect in northeast China is concise, vivid, rich and dynamic, and identical to local people’s characters of boldness, straightness, and humor. Mastering indigenous dialects will help students better appreciate local cultures and traditions. That’s why we should study local dialects in our compulsory education, especially in Chinese textbooks. I am worried about the future of indigenous dialects. China’s vast territory has cultivated various dialects. Dialects, being the carriers of local culture, reflect the traditions deeply rooted in people’s hearts. It is worth mentioning that the degeneration of dialects has become evident in recent years. This phenomenon has become highly prevalent in cities than in rural areas. The frequency of indigenous dialect usage has reduced. Language is an intangible cultural heritage, as well as the carrier of other intangible cultural heritages. Each dialect represents a knowledge system and a variety of cultural traditions. If a dialect is dead, we would lose a corresponding culture system.
I suggest that primary and secondary schools set up dialect courses and more measures should be taken to cultivate a friendly environment for the use of local dialects.