26 August 2005

Gua caya sama Hokkienlang

Hokkienlang's blog is an interesting repository of all things hokkien, from everyday occurences to the odd swearword. The occasional gem shines especially brightly. My current favourite is (surprise, surprise) his entry on Hokkien profanity.

Hokkien is unfairly maligned as a gutter dialect possibly because whenever we notice it being (ab)used, the exchange is laced with profanities. This does not automatically condemn Hokkien to the slums. Profanity marks its user in the same way that a badly written speech condemns the writer.

Does the use of profanity on Hokkienlang's blog devalue it? Put simply, no. Hokkienlang's blog is a living document. Judging from comments left on the site, it strives for and generally succeeds in replicating the speech and thought patterns of Hok kien lang in Malaysia. Put bluntly, if Hokkienlang's readers don't speak or think in exactly the way he writes, it's pretty close.

It's a community service of sorts. Hokkienlang is preserving a culture that is unique to this part of the world, swearwords and all. Hokkien is a working language with a growing lexicon. In this part of the world, it trades words with BM (lu,gua, rempah) and English (teh/tea) and there may be more besides that I don't know about.

In this northwestern corner of Nusantara, Hokkien and the local bahasa have both become bahasa pengantara, bridging cultures and generations. There's even regional variation, with a marked north/south/central divide. All different; all the same; all Hok Kien Lang.

Lately, Hokkienlang has become a Hok Kien sin seh: he's been teaching people to speak Hokkien here and here.

From repository to interactive teaching resource. Now that is impressive!


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