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Cantonese speakers in our eyes
At 04:27 PM 1999/10/16 -0500, you wrote:
>Dear Dr. Liu:
>In your last post about Hakka Munti, in the last paragraph you said:
>' For us, Cantonese speakers are also "natives" aand not as "pure" Chinese
>as Hakka. '
>Can you explain to us how do you get that conclusion. Is that the
>conception of Hakka in
>Hongkong or Kuangtung? I did not get that kind of feeling when I read Lo
>on the origin of Hakka. In his book, he had pages on the topics of
>Cantonese conception of Hakka as "barbarian".
>Can you discuss this issue more?
>Jen-yih (Albert) Chu
Dear Mr. Chu,
Thank you very much for your mail.
A very simple answer is: Hakka speakers in the Pearl River Delta call
Cantonese speakers, bun3ti4ngin2 as "Sa2lau3, Sa2ma2". When I was young, I
could not understand why human being are called "snakes" by us. This name
was so common around us, not only in and around Hong Kong, but also
reported in Zhjongshan county (Lin, 1994). When I was in College, I knew
that "Sa2" is a minority in Eastern Guangdong, which is now almost extinct
because of their assimilation into Hakka. That means, in the past
experience of Hakka speakers, barbarians around us are "Sa2". This concept
is borrowed when we move into the PRD region. When we meet people speaking
another language and have different customs, we just regard then as the
barbarous "Sa2". This is indeed quite insulting for the Cantonese. Please
also read my article on "Hakka people and language in Hong Kong" in the
"Center for Hakka Studies Newsletter", Vol 2: 138-151.
On the other hand, "Hakka" was not nonly meaning "guest", but a minority
call "Hak" in Cantonese. For Cantonese speakers, they think that "Hak" is a
minority from the eastern mountains, exactly those whom we call "sa2".
"Sa2" in the past also named themselves "Hak" and that was the origin of
the century long misunderstanding. When we say theat we are Hakka in
Hongkong (or elsewhere in PRD), most (less educated) people begin to think
that we are somehow "non-Chinese". That is the point why we avoid being
labelled such, because we always do not have time to tell the five
migrations before they laugh at us.
It was a tragedy that two Han brothers pointing to each other as
barbarians, but this is not the only case in human history: brothers are
Luo Xionglin stemmed from Xingning and he could not have the same feeling
as us (Hakka in PRD). But he also wrote than Cantonese should belong to
"Yue-Hai xi", and should have a different history than Hakka. He promised
to elaborate and write on the origin of Cantonese, but he never did.
Therefore I can not see his viewpoint clearly.
For Taiwan Hakka speaker like you, it is hard for you to understand the
sentiments between Bun3ti4 and Hag5ga1 in the PRD in the past three
centuries. Indeed, it is now clear to me that this is the reason why we are
named "Hakka": The name arose when when have conflicts with the
Bun3ti4ngin2 in PRD, not because of the earlier migrations. All southern
ethnic Chinese did migrate, and if HAKKA means Chinese from the Central
Plain, there is no reason to exclude people speaking Cantonese, Hokkien,
Jiagxi and Hunan dialects. Remember that we share almost the same blood
immunoglobins with Cantonese (Zhao et al, 1991).
For many people outside the PRD, Hakka may sound nice to hear. But for us
it means we are "intruders", "trouble-maker". I am considering dropping
this "unfriendly" name to be replaced by the neutral name "Jiayinghua
speakers", and our mission is to protect our language and culture against
the erosion by PTH, Cantonese or other languages. We need to unite all
people, including Cantonese speakers, to build up a multilingual society in
Guangdong, Taiwan and elsewhere where Jiayinghua speakers live. We need to
be respected, not insulted when we name our dialects. We also have to
respect our own language and culture by speaking and practising it, so that
we can show our existence no matter how the political situation changes.
Just look at how German is spoken in Europe.