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Is Chinese Inferior?
A friend of mine who works in a foreign-funded joint venture earns a high salary. Her good income and routine opportunity to go abroad are greatly envied. Her mother is always praising her by emphasizing that the girl has lost her ability to use her Chinese language.

How should one's broken mother tongue justify he or she being envied by others? It is maybe because that my friend, after years of good education and daily use of English as part of her work, has finally managed to forget her mother tongue.

The rationale seems to be like this: the poorer one's Chinese is, the better one's English is to be and the more one is expected to earn.

So, in contrast to English being viewed as a sign of high income and a comfortable life, clumsiness in Chinese seems to be a matter of pride.

In recent years we have seen an increasing number of youngsters mixing English with their Chinese speech or their Chinese writing.

It is undisputed that the increasing trend to learn and use English is desirable. However, I fail to see any point in praising or envying someone who, although well educated, cannot properly use his or her mother tongue.

The language of a nation is a measure of its civilization and the glorious identity of its people. It is rather ridiculous for some people nowadays to try to wash that identity away just because the language represents a country that does not seem to have prospered enough.

(Shanghai Star September 28, 2002)

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