We all know that language is more than just a set of words. It’s the backbone of an entire population, providing an identity, connection to history and a togetherness. So it’s no surprise that many Hong Kongers are feeling adrift right now.
Cantonese, the language of Hong Kong natives (and smaller populations in Southern China), is at risk of becoming obsolete. The reason? In simple terms, China’s forceful push of Putonghua (or Mandarin, as it’s known in the Western world).
This particular struggle isn’t new. China has long deemed Cantonese a ‘colloquial dialect’ rather than a sophisticated, solid language, even though it’s steeped in 3000-year-old history. For many Cantonese-speakers, that’s the real kicker. “Putonghua is an artificial language imposed by the Chinese Communist Party, not a naturally evolved language,” Dr Chen, an etymologist, told HK Magazine.
Read more: Huffington Post