Young people speak up for dialects

Young people speak up for dialects
Students Mah Poh Ee, 18 (left), and Jeraldine Phneah, 22, have written to the authorities, asking dialects to be allowed back on air. They are among a growing number of young Chinese Singaporeans who see dialects as a vital part of their heritage.

SINGAPORE - More than 30 years after their use was discouraged due to the Speak Mandarin campaign, dialects seem to be making a quiet comeback among an unlikely group - the young.

More young Chinese Singaporeans now see dialects as an important part of their heritage, and are taking steps to make sure they will not be lost.

Business undergraduate Jasmine Tan began uploading basic Teochew tutorial videos on YouTube last year. Her channel, Teochew Gaginang (which means "our own people" in the dialect), currently has 214 subscribers.

"It's a way of reaching out to people," said Ms Tan, 19. "It's about cultural preservation but it's also to show people that dialects are not something uncool."

The self-professed "cultural zealot" said that she started her tutorials after being inspired by another YouTube user who uploads tutorials of Native American languages in an effort to protect them from extinction.

"You could call me sentimental," said Ms Tan. "But if you lose your dialect, you lose your culture."

Others, like students Jeraldine Phneah and Mah Poh Ee, have even petitioned the authorities to bring dialects back on air.

Ms Phneah, 22, has lived with her Hokkien-speaking grandparents since she was young.

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