Hokkien Internet multifaceted

The Internet is the power of both centralization and decentralization. This allows a small number of businesses in Silicon Valley to accumulate more wealth, power and control than most governments and kingdoms in history. On the other hand, as the Internet grows, groups form around large nodes on large social media sites. A counterculture and community centered around super-specific interests has emerged. Algorithm-based search results can be used by individuals of all kinds of niche interests to find each other, build communities, and create new connections across locales and time zones.

The spillover effect of this dual process has been felt in many areas, whether it’s the hollowing out of a few blockbusters or mid-sized music artists who endorse a bunch of small names. The number of followers on your Twitter account. This trend also applies to online languages. As more cross-border connections increase, the lingua franca has obvious advantages and tends to be overexpressed on a large scale. As of January 2020, 25% of all internet content was in English.

As Daniel Cunliffe suggested in 2007, this is not just saying that minority languages ​​are “victims of the Internet.” The Internet has created a new space for users of minority languages ​​to come together, engage in minority language activities, and create new resources for the preservation and promotion of their languages.Taiwan example includes website (Aidai) translates Mandarin Chinese terms into Taiwanese Hokkien , Both are extensions of the mengdian project of the g0v community. YouTube and Facebook provide a platform for creators to create content in a variety of languages ​​native to Taiwan, and Taiwan’s Fujian podcast has also appeared.

Minority cultures and languages ​​should not be viewed solely as victims of the Internet or as passive recipients of Internet technologies, services and content. Instead, they could be the active creators of this technology, creating their own tools, adapting existing tools to the needs of the region, and creating culturally genuine and unique Internet media. Must be aware of (Cunliffe, 2007, p147)

However, few have noticed the emergence of a cross-border Fujian / Min Nan language community online. In the context of Taiwan, we are probably accustomed to thinking of the conflict between Hokkien and Mandarin Chinese (“Mandarin”) as a mirror of conflicting nationalism. Taiwan’s Hokkien was banned in public by the Kuomintang government with the mission of “sinning” Taiwan. In recent years, there have been increasing attempts to promote and revive language, but they have often been assembled as an effort to shed Taiwan and establish a more “Taiwan” identity.

This story overlooks the essentially cross-border nature of Fujian language and culture. Hokkien, or Min Nan, refers to a series of almost mutually understandable languages ​​that first appeared in the modern Quanzhou, Fuzhou, and Xiamen areas of Fujian Province. A wave of different types of migration in Min Nan, overlapping and overlapping, with different types in Taiwan (often referred to as Taiwanese, Taigi, or Taiwanese Hokkien), Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, and North America. Min Nan was introduced. In contrast to the more predominant Mandarin, Min Nan tends to be very easy to accept loanwords, and Min Nan has historically no dialect of fame, so it is an ever-evolving and strikingly diverse language. The type. (For example, a speaker familiar with Hokkien in Taiwan may be interested in the English and Malay terms used in the Hokkien show in Singapore.“).

In addition to shared vocabulary and grammar, the almost ubiquitous persecution and alienation of the language seems to have united users. Mandarin has been preferred by both Chinese-speaking governments (PRC and ROC) and those who want to standardize and institutionalize the language of minorities in certain ethnic communities (Malaysia and Singapore), at least since the mid-20th century. It was a language that was used.

Despite such oppression, Hokkien culture has traveled across national borders to various media. In his study After the war, the appearance of Hokkien movies, pop music, and TV content produced and consumed in the Hokkien area. Hokkien Film Studios in Xiamen created and filmed Hokkien opera in the Philippines and Singapore in an attempt to capture cross-border markets. In the 1950s, Taiwan’s Hokkien film industry learned to change its brand name from “Taiwanese film” (Taiwanese film) to the more cross-border “Southern Min” in order to appeal to Southeast Asian audiences. Despite the history of these streams, as Taylor points out, such transnationalism often does not exist in our cultural memory, and such cultural products are now part of the Hokkien film. Not only seen as part of, for example, Singaporean film history or Taiwanese film history.

Transnationalism in this language has never died. In the digital age, there is a lot of online content specifically aimed at promoting Taiwan’s Fuchen language in Taiwan, but there is also a wide range of content created by communities generally interested in Fuchen language. Cross-border Hokkien-speaking people also found each other and formed groups on social media. Share, remix, and match content in these spaces, rather than facilitating the use of certain types of languages. For example, Min Peoples, Min Languages, a Facebook group with about 20,000 members from Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and China, shares everything related to Min Chinese (Min Chinese) culture. I am devoted to “doing”. Folk) song, and Min Nan. ”

These groups represent a new type of multinational language exchange suitable for the digital age. To quote Cunliffe again, Fujian Internet users “created their own tools.[ed] Existing tools locally [or translocal] Created “Needs” and “Culturally Genuine, Indigenous Internet Media”.

Diversity in language use often poses a dilemma for language activists. Promoting a unique variety of languages ​​carries the risk of harming others. Some online tools like Itaigi address this issue by providing users with a translation of Mandarin Fujian to vote. In “Min Peoples, Min Languages”, this variety of languages ​​is a kind of game. Users share with each other how to say a particular word in Hokkien where they live. Also, post a video from TikTok or YouTube and ask people to identify which type of Fukuken language is spoken.

In particular, most of the content in the group is not created by you, but shared by YouTube, Tik Tok, or other Facebook groups. We also welcome all kinds of content, including people singing at Hokkien, comedy sketches, videos, religious festivals, links to historical texts, and even language tests. Groups like “Min Peoples, Min Languages” exist only as an aggregator of Min-related content distributed on the Internet. Within the last 24 hours of my writing, users shared a video that Sun Wukong claims (in Mandarin). A nearly two-hour video of a Malaysian Hokkien song, a post celebrating Mazu’s birthday, and a woman singing Hokkien karaoke, born in Quanzhou.

“Min Peoples, Min Languages” is a way for users to integrate more Min content into their Facebook feeds and share Min content from across the Internet, rather than building a community. Despite the number of members, most posts receive only a few comments, and if you have a question, you usually get only a handful of answers.

But faster internet speeds and new computing technologies are a powerful force behind the growth of these groups. Many posts in these groups contain audiovisual content. This is because the number of linguistic Hokkien speakers is much higher than the number of people who can read and write in one of the many secretary systems of the language.

Groups like “Min Peoples, Min Languages” allow users to easily and conveniently escape from the ethnic minority language space and integrate into web experiences in other languages. As the number of similar groups grows and the number of groups focused on language activities grows, it will be easier for Internet users to decide how much time they will spend on the Internet in Fujian. Like offline, the Fujian Web is in a series of interrelated clusters. The same is true whether the Mandarin content appears in the majority of Mandarin feeds, or if the Mandarin comments discuss the Min Peoples, Min, and other pages about the Min Darin video. language. Importantly, this online form of code-switching differs from the offline form in one important way. When a Minmin user uses the Minmin Internet, he searches for content in a particular region or country, or originates from multiple locations and contains polyphony in different languages.

I don’t want to suggest that the sites that appear on the Hokkien Internet represent the future of language activity or that Hokkien will be revived. This site promotes shallow engagement with content and promotes language consumption, but not necessarily language usage.

Min Peoples, Min Languages ​​aren’t trying to save Min Chinese (as is the case with many online groups), but it reflects the cross-border flow of Min languages ​​and cultures in the digital age. This group promotes multiple Fujian cultures and interacts with cross-pollination in East, Southeast Asia and beyond. Importantly, the group also demonstrates the creativity of Min Min users, creating content, building new forms of connectivity, and using digital tools to find new ways to tackle languages ​​and common intertwined history. It is.

Read next: Picnic with Ifugao people living in Taiwan

TNL Editor: Bryan Chou (@thenewslensintl).

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