By Jake Chung / Personal Editor
A Lienchiang County resident strives to keep a local language alive through her YouTube channel.
Tsao Chen-ying’s (曹 辰 瑩) weekly program teaches people the eastern Min (閩) language known as Fuzhouhua (福州 話), which was long ago one of the daily languages heard on the Matsu Islands. On her channel, she documents her efforts to learn the language on her own and leads discussions about the history of Fuzhouhua.
Tsao said that daily conversations about matsu have been conducted in Mandarin since 1945, when the Chinese Nationalist Party imposed the language until 1987, during the days of martial law.
As a result, older people are unlikely to speak Fuzhouhua with younger generations, who are less likely to understand it, she said.
While the Fuzhouhua is originally from the eastern region of Min, it has undergone changes in pronunciation and vocabulary that set it apart from Matsu. It is officially listed by the government as the “Matsu [variant of the] Min eastern language.
Tsao said older generations tend to believe that teaching the language was unnecessary and could lead to the younger generation being ostracized for their accent.
Tsao said that although she grew up on Matsu, she only understood the language but couldn’t speak it.
Tsao said the inspiration for his program came from his desire to converse better with his grandmother in the language, adding that the COVID-19 period provided a good opportunity to learn the language.
She said her program seeks to convince older people that speaking the language is an act of identification with the local culture.
Tsao said that you shouldn’t learn your mother tongue just because it is offered in school.
Trying to learn a language on your own is difficult, she said, but the effort and mistakes make the language more impressionable, compared to teaching a language in the classroom.
Tsao said that she had improved her skills considerably, which had a positive impact on those around her, adding that people she knew put more effort into speaking the language with her and realized that the language had a place in culture.
An upcoming episode of her program will feature elementary school principals discussing their thoughts on government policy to include the teaching of Fuzhouhua in schools, she said.
Tzao’s channel can be found on YouTube by searching for “掐 米亞 Danemark”.
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