My research

Language is part of a person’s identity. I know that in the United States, due to the diverse population, there are so many non-English speakers that some languages other than English are widely used in a certain region.
I came from China so I speak Chinese. But people will most likely automatically assume that there is only one Chinese language. Here is the truth, Just as the Spanish language includes several dialectical differences in different countries and regions around the world, spoken Chinese includes a variety of types that are divided largely along geographical lines.
Let’s go back to the identity part. I am a Cantonese speaker whereas at home I will switch to the mode of speaking Hakkanese which is the language of Hakka people. Apparently, my parents are Hakka people and they make strict rules that we all use Hakkanese at home. When I was a child, I didn’t really consider myself a Hakkanese probably because I live in Cantonese speaking region and I don’t really want to be seen as different. So I kind of had the rejection of speaking Hakkanese to my parents and I found it very embarrassed when my mom spoke Hakkanese to me in public, feeling that people looked at us weirdly. No matter how hard my parents wanted me to speak Hakkanese, I just couldn’t make myself comfortable speaking it when my friends are around. When I now think back of those stupid and ignorant times, I always have the urge to slap my face. Never knew how my parents were disappointed at me.
One thing did change me when one summer we went to visit my grandma in the village where my parents originally from. Out of curiosity, I asked my grandma about the story of my ancestors, my dad’s childhood and most importantly, Hakka people’s traditions and customs. I have been separate from my Hakka origin for a long time and my parents are the only tie I still have connecting me to my Hakka origin and therefore, I know little about Hakka people. As she gently told me the story, I was more and more fascinated by how amazing and great Hakka people are.
In ancient China time, forced by war and hunger out of the homes, the Hakka ancestors from the North part of China migrated to every corner of China. Based on northern dialect, their language merged with the local dialect and therefore Hakkanese came into being. Hakka people now has spread over the whole world, bringing with them their language which is now spoken in all parts of the world, in Asia, in Europe, in America, in the islands of the Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and the Atlantic.
Since the inspiring talk with my grandma, my perception of my identity has changed. I became to be so proud of myself being a Hakkanese. I became very confident speaking Hakkanese in front of my friends and would like introduce some Hakka words to them and answer their inquisitive questions. As a grown up and more mature and sophisticated Hakkanese, I really feel the mission to carry on our language and tradition.
Although we do many things as the other Chinese, but still we are perceived as different. The strong components in Hakka identity are language, religion, solidarity within the Hakka community and pride associated with it, a critical population mass, and a critical land mass, without which they would have been swallowed up and forgotten.

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One thought on “My research

  1. I love reading pieces that teach me something new that I never knew before, and that is exactly what your piece does! I find the fact that you’ve come to accept being Hakkanese and the different dialects within the Chinese language beautiful and intriguing. Even though I know you were answering a prompt, it didn’t feel like it; your story reads as a beautiful narrative.

    Like

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