When "Chinese" Doesn’t Mean Mandarin

The following is a guest post by Ty Lim, who served as president of Gaginang — a US-based nonprofit that promotes Teochew culture, language, and identity — from 2005 to 2009.

Outside of China proper, in cities around the world, what’s the lingua franca for communities of the Chinese diaspora? Your first instinct will be to say “Pshaw! In this globalized day and age, it certainly is Mandarin, 普通話, 國語, one people, one language bla bla bla.” This may be true for many cosmopolitan places such as Singapore, New York, and Paris but there are still many places where different dialects are the standard. Continue…

Want to publicize lesser-known Chinese?

Deerawn asked, in the “learning Chinese” article linked to yesterday:

Why does it seem to be completely taboo to teach a language like Wu, Hakka, Min?

Maybe it was rhetorical. But Kellen takes it beyond rhetoric in Annals of Wu :

I was poking around my long-dormant CouchSurfing profile last week when I realised Wu isn’t an option for languages on one’s profile, though Cantonese is and of course Mandarin as well. So I sent them an email. They asked for the ISO code (”wuu” in this case), a link to the Wikipedia article on the missing language and maybe an explanation beyond that. So I sent it all in, and sure enough a few days later, Wu is now available.

There you have it. Spread the word, drop-down box by drop-down box.