Sat, Jan 12, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Tainan stores begin Hoklo learning drive

STREET SPEAK:Hoklo singer Hsieh Ming-yu said that the movement came about because it is easier to perfect a language when hearing it in an everyday setting

By Tsai Wen-chu and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Award-winning Taiwanese musician Hsieh Ming-yu points at a poster promoting a campaign about learning Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) in Tainan on Thursday.

Photo: Tsai Wen-chu, Taipei Times

Fourteen stores on Tainan’s Jhengsing Street (正興街) on Thursday began using Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) when helping tourists, part of a larger movement to promote the fluent use of Hoklo.

The movement, called “Discover Hoklo in Tainan,” was spearheaded by Hoklo pop singer Hsieh Ming-yu (謝銘祐), the Tainan Community College, the Flomo Education Foundation, Saikaokin Hostel and the shops on the street.

Hsieh, who teaches popular culture and music at the community college, said that he has come to realize that while many younger students say that Hoklo is their native tongue, they unconsciously use Mandarin syntax and grammar when speaking it.

“The environment for speaking Hoklo is rapidly disappearing,” Hsieh said, adding that he hopes the movement will help more people learn to speak Hoklo like a native speaker.

Mastering a language is about using it correctly, which is heard more often on the streets than in school, Hsieh said.

The phrase tsi tshui ta (止喙焦), meaning “to quench one’s thirst,” is often used in tea stores, while the phrase for traditional stores that sell suits is a homonym of Saville Row in England, Hsieh said.

Learning the language while it is being used would serve to promote it better than learning it at school, Hsieh said, adding that it would also help tourists understand the unique characteristics of Tainan’s long-standing stores.

Community college staffer Lin Kuan-chou (林冠州) said the movement has received the support of many stores, with the 14 stores on Jhengsing Street — a spot largely frequented by young people — being the first to implement Hoklo services.

The ultimate goal is to make Jhengsing Street entirely Hoklo-speaking, Lin said.

Store owner Erik Kao (高耀威) said that he moved to Tainan in 2010 and has slowly become fluent in the language, because his neighbors always speak to him in Hoklo.

“Everyone, from postal carriers to customers, has played the role of a teacher for me,” Kao said, adding that as he became more fluent in the language, his sense of belonging in the community became stronger.

The college has also established a group to help those who want to learn to pronounce Hoklo correctly, while the foundation has produced videos in Hoklo.

“We hope to make Hoklo a unique cultural aspect of Tainan,” Hsieh said.

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