Do overseas Chinese still speak their "mother tongue"?

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Florianus

New Member
China, Hoochewese and Mandarin
Do overseas Chinese still speak their mother tongue (ethnic language; which may not be first language)? Mother tongue is often set to be a dialect rather than a standard or official national language in most cases. Like, Wales/Irish instead of British English altho those people's first language maybe English. In China, PuTonghua/official Mandarin is not Chinese people's mother tongue 'cause the ancerstors did not speak this kinda Chinese for more than hundred years.

So, do overseas Chinese still learn their languages from older people? Or the younger generation just jumps to school and learn the official Mandarin?

In addition, Do northern overseas Chinese still speak their Mandarin instead of official/national one? Non-official Mandarin 官話 (northern Chinese mother tongue, eight big branches of Mandarin) is different from official Mandarin (pu tong hua).
Like Beijing Mandarin, the vocabulary and tones are different. But, nowadays, northern Chinese just speak official Mandarin vocabulary instead of their own... No so pure. Beijing young generation even thinks their PuTongHua mixed Beijing Mandarin accent is pure Beijing Mandarin. Which sounds like a joke to me, because a language or dialect should have its own vocabulary and distinct tones etc.

Do overseas Hakka Chinese still speak Hakka客家? Teochew潮汕? These two are often misunderstood and thought their mother tongue is Cantonese. Because many of them are kinda "minority" in GuangDong Province, often they just learn to speak Cantonese. Therefore, in overseas, their offsprings may think their mother tongue is Cantonese.

How about Hokkien福建話/閩南話, Hakka, Teochew, Cantonese廣州话 in Southeast Asia? How about Hoochew福州話, Cantonese, Hakka, Teochew, and northern Mandarin (non-official one) in America whether northern or southern? How about Wu Chinese 吳語/浙江話 and other Chinese languages in Europe?

I think official Mandarin/PuTongHua is more and more popular in overseas now. I kinda worry about overseas Chinese mother tongue. Hope I can get some useful information from you, first of all, thanks. and peace out. ;D
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Furthermore, What is your opinion on this? Do you think people should keep their mother tongue and learn one useful language (like a globally used language: English or official Mandarin)? Or they just forget about the mother tongue, just learn official languages according to where they live?
 
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  • khoo1993

    Member
    Chinese
    I am a Malaysian Chinese, My mother tongue is Mandarin and Cantonese and i speak Hokkien and Hakka(both are not very well).But I suck in Malay which is my national language and some of the Malaysian Chinese don't speak Mandarin but only English.
     

    Ben pan

    Senior Member
    chinese
    I am a Malaysian Chinese, My mother tongue is Mandarin and Cantonese and i speak Hokkien and Hakka(both are not very well).But I suck in Malay which is my national language and some of the Malaysian Chinese don't speak Mandarin but only English.
    Do most of the people around you speak Chinese? So that Chinese is your working language?
     

    khoo1993

    Member
    Chinese
    Do most of the people around you speak Chinese? So that Chinese is your working language?
    Mostly, English is my working language, it depends on which friend i am meeting, some of my friend don't speak Mandarin, but if they do then i would speak with them in Mandarin
     

    Florianus

    New Member
    China, Hoochewese and Mandarin
    I knew that most of Malaysian or Indonesian Chinese ancestors are Hokkien, Teochew, Hakka, or Cantonese etc. So, do you see there is not many Malaysian Chinese speak their mother tongue, Hakka, Hokkien, or Cantonese? But they tend to learn official Mandarin from school and speak it in public?

    Florianus
     

    xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    To be honest, I don't think "Do overseas Chinese still speak their "mother tongue"?" is an appropriate question to ask and would yield any usable result, unless all overseas Chinese live in one, definable, confined place. No, overseas Chinese live in all sorts of countries with very different conditions from one another, and so whether they still speak their "mother tongue" depends crucially on where they are and the circumstances around them.
     

    Florianus

    New Member
    China, Hoochewese and Mandarin
    Which sounds good to me that your Malaysian colleagues still keep speak Cantonese Chinese while learning and speaking official Mandarin Chinese.
     

    Florianus

    New Member
    China, Hoochewese and Mandarin
    I mean that do Chinese speak their mother tongue at home in overseas? 'cause it doesn't need to have to be living in a confined community but just survive as a home language that pass on to next generation. And younger generation can communicate with family members in China in mother tongue.
     

    TJYYEO

    New Member
    Scottish English
    Lets start with telling with some of the history. If you are talking about chinese, then you mean Mandarin and the other 'dielects '. But because the pronunciation different and grammar has a huge difference we usually treated them as a different language.
    First off, yes we (I'm an oversea's Chinese) do speak 'dielects ' at home, with friends and even at work. In Malaysia (currently living in) there are many Chinese who came from different regions in different area, so of course there were many 'dielects' used here. Lets say you made a few mistakes, the hokkien, teochew and Hainan are all called 閩南話, which means they are considered one language. Those are just branch languages or dielects'which you can also understand them if you know one of it. Hakka is another, Wu too and Cantonese too. Cantonese is called 广俯话 not 廣州话. Wu is also called shanghai dialect who is popular used at there. By the way, talking about 广俯话, there are also dialect for it which include 广东canton and 广西cansai. In overseas, because most immigrants are from south china, thus the popular ones were from MIN, Hakka and Canton. Majority of them are Cantonese.
    Nowadays in school, Mandarin was commonly used. Even so, some schools in southern China still refused to use them as a language medium. It is considered not their mother tongue and some people even hate it.
    Yes Mandarin was getting popular because most people knew how to use it. And some of the younger generations don't even learn it from their parents. But for the older generations, many of them don't even know how to speak in Mandarin and even the southern province in China can't use it well.
    To whether preserve our 'true' tongue or not, it is up to the community themselves, some said that it is not useful but some said that it is important. For me, i think that it is very important ( I knew 3 versions of Cantonese, hokkien, teochew, hainan, 2 hakkas and not to mention Mandarin.) because there is the difference in expressing and there are different cultural that can only be expressed through that specific dialect.
    Last thing, even you said that the other languages users are the minorities, they still have a huge population in the area or the world speaking them, probably have a higher population than some official languages users.
     

    AYXW7000

    New Member
    English-Canada
    In regards to your original question, as many others have said, it depends on the situation of the people. From personal experience, my parents both immigrated to a English-speaking country with very little fluency in the language, so they have a tendency to speak to my siblings and I in Mandarin, and additionally, it is necessary for my siblings and I, since the majority of our relatives do not know English well.
     
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