Sat, Aug 12, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Johnny Neihu's Mailbag

More Doraemon madness and searing questions on the fate of the Hakka language. And who are the "Hakka of the Holy Land"?

There's hope for Doraemon

Dear Johnny,

Having read of the dilemma faced by "NW" (Johnny Neihu's Mailbag, Aug. 5, page 8), I could not help but pen this missive telling him that all is not lost.

I too acquired the aforementioned shit-eating Xiao Ding-dang (小叮噹) and I too also felt bereft and destitute, feeling that my collection had in some way become sullied and tarnished.

However, the folks behind our best blue friend obviously made a contingency plan for this kind of emotional fallout because I was recently blessed to become the proud owner of the Doraemon Taiwan Magnet Mark II -- "The Patriot Special Edition" -- where our hero is bedecked in a costume more befitting a proud Taiwanese, standing in a bed of flowers with the backdrop of our beautiful mountains and the Alishan (阿里山) train rumbling by.

Clearly, someone out there (in Japan?) is rooting for the home team.

Is it too much to ask that some of the slimy, schizophrenic sycophants who call co-opted Taiwan their "home" and now control the legislature start doing the same?

Ben Goren

Taiwan Defense Force

International Martyrs

(South Division)

Tainan

PS: I want to send some balls to my government. What's the address?

Johnny replies: Look it up yourself. I'm too busy buying more Doraemon merchandise.

Get some Hakka in you

Dear Johnny,

I have a language question for you. When I first came to Taiwan 20 years ago, everyone called the local language "Taiwanese." The Mainlanders I knew complained it was an ugly, low-class dialect, and vastly inferior to the ugly, low-class dialects they spoke. Then people started calling it "Hokkien." Now it's "Hoklo."

I'm wondering whether the Government Information Office (GIO) is planning any more name changes. If so, they should just come clean and tell us what they're really thinking so that this name-changing can stop.

I suggest that we call Hoklo "Goodspeak" and Mandarin "Badspeak." Of course, we have to have a politically correct name for Hakka, so that can be renamed Alsogoodspeak.

The various Aboriginal languages can be called Goodspeaktoo. Since these keep proliferating, we should give each language, dialect and sub-dialect a number (Goodspeaktoo 1, Goodspeaktoo 2, etc). If the Aborigines object to numbers, we can just name each Aboriginal language after a sign in the Chinese (oops: Taiwanese) zodiac. Any leftover languages can be called after Madame Chiang Kai-shek's favorite shoes. For example, the Amis language can be renamed "That fuzzy pink Balenciaga with stiletto heels."

Can you give us a progress report on how many foreigners have become fluent in Hakka from listening to Hakka language lessons on ICRT? I hope that the GIO holds a Hakka-speaking contest for the foreign community so that we can show off our new found linguistic skills. Does the GIO plan to broadcast Hakka lessons for locals on other radio stations? After all, everyone deserves to have their Taiwan experience enriched through Hakka.

Since the MRT announces stops in Hakka, I assume that there are Hakka who understand neither Mandarin nor Hoklo riding around on Taipei's subway. I'm wondering where these monolingual Taipei Hakka live. Is there a Hakkatown in Taipei? I haven't bought the Insight Guide to Taipei (I'm offended by the pro-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) slant), so I'm afraid I don't have the latest information on Taipei's tourist attractions.

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