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Hakka is a Modern Tongue
I like discussion especially with wise people because it increase my
thinking capacity. As for your questions:
1. Let's say Hakka was really a modern tongue. Then what is in it that you
feel so strongly that we need to preserve it, knowing that languages are
dynamic and changing all the time any way? If preserving it would help
us understand more of the ancient literature, that is a reason. But if
preserving a language just for preserving it, we can do the same for
thousnads of other disappearing languages.
If we can preserve all the modern dialects, each of which reflct a few
percentds of our ancestral tongue, it is not only useful for understanding
old poems and reconstruction of the ancient common tongue, but also
increase the variety of language resource of China.
2. I think we are on agreement on that "Hakka" is a label, but without this
label, we cannot define what is what. Let's say Hakka was a term used first
in 1669, how do we name the language that was spoken in 1668? (There was a
typo in my last post). I don't agree the use of pre-Hakka because it seems
that it is vastly different from Hakka as a lizard is different from a
do we trace to the earliest time of this tongue (Hakka or otherwise)?
Please refer to my last post. I also dislike the name "Pre-Hakka" as it is
too clumsy. It was named and still named Tong2va4. Tong2va is comparable to
orange juice, and Sunkist or Treetop comparable to Hakka or Cantonese. The
"earliest form" of Hakka is the time we put the label. Without a label,
Sunkist is an orange juice. Hakka as Tong2va4 existed for about a
millenium, but we should be careful not be mix the label with the content.
Hakka as a label had its time of origin which I put as 1669, but Luo
Xianglin put it as 1867. I also use Tangren/Tong2ngin2 to substitute Luo's
3. Again, all these are trivial questions. But none of the definitions is
closer than Hakka. Especially when we are trying to read the Tang poems
in Hakka. We have to call it Hakka and not pre-Hakka. My view is the
tongue is a lot older than the Song migration.
Please refer to my last meassages on language change. I don't want to
repeat again. We inherited some important characteristics of the rimes in
the Tang dynasty, but a mere few percents. other dialects got some other
characteristics. Hakka is not the only modern dialect with ancient
characteristics. Northern dialects can, on the other hand, preserve the
onsets better than Hakka and Cantonese, e.g. in the characters beginning
with Hanyu Pingyin 'r' are almost 100% reflecting the Middle Chinese onset
"ri". Beijing pronunciation beginning with "r" have lost about half of
their initials in Hakka, and more than 90% in Cantonese. None of the
dialect in today's Chinese is the "best" one to preserve the old culture,
but they add up to preserve a culture. This is the most important reason
for preserving Chinese dialects as stated at the beginning. The Tang poems
were written with the official tongue of about 1400 years ago, and none of
the modern dialect can exactly reflect its rimes. The reconstruction is
still underway and far from ideal.
4. If Qin was the one that unified all kingdoms in written character,
easurements, and even road width, I wonder why the most important
communciation tool of spoken language was not. That is why I tend to think
that Hakka language should be defined as an ancient language at least back
to Han/Jin era.
I oppose beacuse it is a dangerous way of thinking and harms the harmony
among Chinese. If Hakka claim Chinese culture theirs, and cantonese claim
Chinese culture theirs, it end up in disputes. We are sharing a great
culture. When we claim the ancient tongues as "Hakka" or "Pre-Hakka", it is
unjust to the other dialect speakers.
Every dynasty had its official tongue of the time, which is also comparable
to Old English, Old High German, Old Arabic, Sanskrit etc. Language changes
through the ages, so did these official tongues. They had a proper name at
each time, but they were never named Hakka. If an OJ dug out from an
ancient tomb was named Moonkist, you cannot say it should have been
"Sunkist" or the progenitor of Sunkist. The other trademarks of OJ will
oppose this. We do not have to name the official language of any dynasty
Hakka as this is against historical fact, and also hurts the sentiments of
I stress again, we don't need a long history to show that we are "correct",
a healthy body and mind is more useful for our fulture.
5. I emphasize over and over again, trying to preserve Hakka culture is not
in any way putting down on other minority cultures but to add to the
colorful nature of CHinese culture on the whole.
That is important and we should also respect the sentiments of other people
who may dislike the label Hakka put onto them including dead people like
Mao Zedong. Last year we meet the granddaughter of Sun Yat Sen who gave a
public lecture at my University. Someone asked if she is Hakka but she
denied. I respect her sentiment because identity is a psychological choice.
What I should do is to prevent this happening among my children.