#42 – Languages

[ Author’s note: I decided to be random and keep track of the number of posts that I have written instead of constantly being informed by WordPress. It doesn’t make much sense of requiring external parties to tell me how much I have written, given that I only started for nearly a month. (Time literally just flew by.)]

Back to the main topic. 

I was reading a magazine that my brother was forced to subscribe by his school. (It happens in almost ALL the schools in Singapore. I have Readers’ Digest, Newsweek, Times, The Economist, The Straits Times and other lots of magazines at home. I think the pile has been collecting dust since I have graduated from Junior College. My brothers don’t even take a peek into the content of the magazines. At all.) One of the topic that gave me a really deep impression was on the Ancient Languages and whether it would survive time. (The main topic of that issue was on education apartheid – whether the disabled should be included into mainstream education. There was also mentions about tattoo and its rich history. Maybe that I should talk about that in my next post.) Being a language person (I only got A1 for English and Chinese for ‘O’ Levels. Maybe I should refer less to my results. It is getting a little annoying.), I love to know more about other languages. I have been trying to learn Korean, Japanese and Malay at the same time. I am still trying. 

The author wrote about the revival of spoken Hebrew and how Eliezer Ben-Yehuda created vocabulary for modern items that was not present in the past. There were special mentions about Latin (the language often used by Popes.), Aramic (the language thought to be used by Jesus Christ), Sanskrit (the language of the Hindus), Jewish Aramic (it is different from Aramic). The content was interesting, but somehow it was not too relevant to me or my culture.

Singapore faces similar languages problem. In the past, dialects such as Hokkien (my dialect) and Cantonese became a hindrance as Singaporeans fail to master the official languages of Chinese and English. Then Chinese became a problem when English became the working language along with the rise of the US. Then now, English becomes the problem when China is rising. 

For me, I had the best time trying to learn my dialects. I learn Hokkien from my grandmother and my parents while I learn Cantonese from watching shows and my colleagues when I was working in a restaurant. (I was working in a Thai restaurant and I did pick up a few Thai phrases while working.) I did make a fool of myself trying to speak, but thinking back, it formed good memories. Learning a new language is like learning a new skill. And language is the window to a culture. 

Don’t let your culture fade away. Learn to love your language. 


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