Penang-style Hokkien needs to be passed on

Penang-style Hokkien is a precious cultural language of Penang and it needs to be protected and passed on to the next generations, said Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

“Penang-style Hokkien, or Minnan language, is one of Penang’s precious cultural languages. Therefore, the state government strongly supports the promotion of various dialects to protect and preserve this dialect.

“I encourage clan associations of different ethnic groups to integrate modern technology in promoting dialect culture.

“By using the internet and major media platforms, these dialects can be spread, allowing more young people to understand and appreciate them,” he said in a statement.

He said this at the opening ceremony of the Malaysia finals of the “2024 World Hokkien Golden Melody Awards and Cross-Strait Hokkien Grand Prix” on July 7.

Chow added that many of Penang’s Chinese ancestors came from Quanzhou and Zhangzhou in Fujian.

He further stated that when they ventured to Southeast Asia, they brought their local dialect, Minnan, to Penang.

“Under the influence of Malay, English, Teochew, Cantonese, and other languages, Penang Hokkien was formed. Therefore, most Chinese in Penang understand Minnan and even some friends from other ethnic groups can speak fluent Penang Hokkien.”

However, over time, the number of people using the Hokkien or Minnan language for communication has decreased, especially among young Hokkiens.

He noted that most of them mastered Mandarin while neglecting Hokkien, threatening the dialect’s status and usage.

Therefore, he believes that maintaining and preserving the Minnan language is urgent. He is confident that significant progress can be made with cooperation from various clan associations and organisations in the state.

Additionally, this year marks the 50th anniversary of Malaysia-China diplomatic relations. The competition is one of the series of events celebrating this milestone. He hopes the competition will strengthen cultural exchanges between Malaysia and China, enhancing their friendship.

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