Youth must learn dialects or risk losing part of their culture


Yeo Su-Wen

Published: 4:00 AM, September 17, 2016

Singapore has become more globalised over the years, and most younger Chinese Singaporeans are unable to speak their respective dialects — Teochew, Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka, Hainanese and more — to their elders, such as their grandparents, who may speak primarily in dialect.

A gap between generations has thus formed. Though speaking one language as a society can help to build social cohesion and a more tightly knit community, it is important not to forget these dialects.

The new Hokkien drama Eat Already? was released on Sept 9 and, albeit aimed mainly at seniors, is an opportunity for the younger generation to get in touch with Hokkien.

If this drama is well received, I agree that the Government should continue with such shows, in Hokkien and other dialects (“New dialect series a boon for both young and old”; Sept 9).

This would benefit dialect speakers by informing them of government schemes, and aid the younger generation by exposing them to these dialects.

Although most of us speak English as our first language, it is crucial that we maintain a link to our roots, or a part of our culture would be erased in the next generation.