[Wikipedia-l] Re: One Chinese Wikipedia

Lorenzarius lorenzarius at gmail.com
Wed Sep 15 05:31:56 UTC 2004

I am no opinion on zh-min-nan but I have a few things to say about your message.

On Tue, 14 Sep 2004 17:09:43 -0700, Mark Williamson <node.ue at gmail.com> wrote:
> First and foremost this problem could be looked at in terms of Cantonese.
> Modern Cantonese actually has two different versions, one that is just
> reading text written for Mandarin speakers but with Cantonese
> readings, the other being using Cantonese grammar and vocabulary words
> that Cantonese has but Mandarin doesn't.
> Until very recently the latter had the higher status in Hong Kong and
> Macau, however upon reunification the former gained the higher status.
> Most Cantonese speakers, even if they don't know Mandarin, can read
> texts written by a Mandarin speaker with little difficulty, but much
> of the sentences are not how they would say them in everyday speech.

I am a Hongkonger and I speak Cantonese. And I think what you're
talking is really messed up. We write "written Chinese" (書面語) not what
you called "reading text written for Mandarin speakers". And this
"written Chinese" is the same "written Chinese" in Beijing or in
Shanghai or in any part of China. Chinese people write Chinese in its
common form: before the New Written Language Movement (AD 192x - 193x)
this common form is "wenyian" (or Classical Chinese), and after the
movement this common form is "baihua" (Modern Chinese).

It is true that what we speak is not what we write. But no one
actually write "Cantonese" except in very vulgar or very casual
occasions, like when I'm IM-ing with my friends. We don't teach how to
write Cantonese in school, and I think that not much people really
know how to write correct Cantonese.

> Then there is also an issue with Classical Chinese which is very
> different from modern Mandarin. Until very recently any sort of
> reference work like an encyclopedia would've been written in Classical
> Chinese which was the literary language.

Perhaps you're right if "until very recently" means several decades ago.


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