發文作者:kahoo | 17 二月, 2007

《環球郵報》Globe and Mail: 16 Feb. 2007

嘉賓王亭之 談電視台對英文報紙之回應


News readers face dispute over Cantonese pronunciation

Group says OMNI, Fairchild usage ‘differs’ from the language that most viewers speak

A dispute over the form of Cantonese spoken by announcers on Toronto-based television news broadcasts that has been quietly simmering in the Chinese community is breaking out publicly just in time for the Chinese New Year.

At this weekend’s Toronto Lunar New Year festival, the Cantonese Culture Promotion Society will be seeking signatures for a petition urging Fairchild and OMNI Television anchors to change the way they speak Cantonese, Vivian Tsang, spokeswoman for the group, said yesterday.

Ms. Tsang said the group was set up last year to try to persuade the two stations to reverse a move, begun in the late 1990s, to use a pronunciation standard “that differs from what regular Cantonese speakers would use."

The stations now use a form of Cantonese that grew out of a movement, which started in Hong Kong in the late 1980s, to improve pronunciation. At that time, many intellectuals were promoting a unique Hong Kong culture before the former British colony reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, she said.

The languages rectification movement has been driven by one man, Richard Ho of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who bases his rules about the correct pronunciation of Cantonese primarily on his interpretation of a 1,000-year-old dictionary of Chinese rhymes, she said.

The changes to Cantonese pronunciation that he has proposed have been adopted by the public broadcaster, Radio Television Hong Kong and by Hong Kong’s education authorities, she noted.

But the changes have not been taken up in China’s Guangdong province, where most of the 200 million Cantonese speakers in the world live, and many Cantonese intellectuals and scholars take issue with them, she said.

Prof. Ho’s version of Cantonese was brought to Canadian Cantonese-language broadcasting by a number of prominent journalists who moved here from Hong Kong in the late 1990s and early this decade, she added.

Two problems crop up when this version is used here, Ms. Tsang said. Younger Chinese-Canadians learn to pronounce words in a way that most Cantonese speakers, including those in their own family, cannot follow, and viewers of the news programs are often confused by what they hear.

She said, for instance, that during the height of the native occupation in Caledonia, Ont., the broadcasters used a pronunciation of the word “dispute" that most of their viewers would have interpreted as dog fighting.

She said her organization wants the two stations to adopt the form of the language most Cantonese speakers in the Toronto area actually use in their daily lives, but neither station has responded in a way that appears to open a discussion of the issue.

Connie Sephton, assistant manager of Fairchild Television, said the company realizes that there are different schools of thought on how Cantonese should be pronounced, but added, “We don’t want to take any positions on that."

She said what is important to the company is that it is consistent and uniform in the language it uses and that it uses the form most people understand.

OMNI Television did not respond to a call yesterday.

In the 2001 census, Statistics Canada reported that there were 145,490 people whose mother tongue was Cantonese in the Toronto area.

This probably underestimates the number, as the agency also found that there were 165,120 people whose mother tongue was an unspecified Chinese dialect. Given the pattern of migration from China to Canada, the majority of this group would be expected to speak Cantonese.


Source: Globe and Mail, 16 February 2007.


  1. To the assistant manager of Fairchild Inc., if you broadcast in Cantonese, you have already taken a side!

  2. cytodex, if you say in such a way, you have already having a bias!

  3. Connie Sephton ignores the audiences!!!

  4. Connie Sephton speaks the truth!!!

  5. Hi Kahoo,Where is your own 風骨 for filter out my last comment?You expect people to lay back when you openly bashing your own colleage?

  6. By the way ,Do you ever filter out negative comments for Fairchild tv & Omni news, I guess not ah,Because this is your personal agenda,If your radio programe alway advertise on the important of freedom of speech, Why filter out comment you do not like? Is is what HYPOCRITE is about?

  7. 寬容人:

    You do not sound like a “寬容人" at all wor.

    So many conspiracies in your mind. Take it easy man.

  8. I think Kahoo has also criticized his own station’s news reports (not only others) for adopting Prof Ho’s “virus pronunciation".

    But I think what’s really funny here is that no matter people like Kahoo or Dr. So or Dr. Tam’s opinions or not, people who love their views or hate their views still tune in to their radio show…

    I think this is what make them controversial… People who dislike their ideas still have to listen to their show and pay attention to what they have to say every day… what a love-hate relationship… i guess that is just like the “Victoria Park Uncles" in hk.. “越鬧越想聽".. hee hee…

    anyways it’s pretty cool to read different contrasting thoughts here… hope all uncles will enjoy a Happy Chinese New Year!

  9. After listening to the radio call-in shows regarding the dispute over Cantonese pronunciation, I have to say that, so far, I haven’t heard any argument from even one audience saying that Richard Ho’s set of “correct” pronunciations is either correct or is widely spoken by the Cantonese-speaking communities in the world. Perhaps Connie, who presumably is married to a non-cantonese speaking husband, was told by her husband that Ho’s endorsed pronunciations were spoken by the Cantonese en masse – even though Mr. Sephton doesn’t even speak the language!
    Although Chinese, like Japanese and Korean, is not a phonetic language, the de facto pronunciation of the words is easily known and cannot easily be misled or skewed by a few individuals or media organizations based on plain and blatant lies. If we know this is definitely wrong, we should all stand up and defend our dialect. Peter Calamai, Toronto Star’s Science Writer writes today, “Every time a language dies…the world loses irreplaceable scientific knowledge as well as cultural richness.” Ho’s unilateral standardization of the Cantonese pronunciations is a splineless movement that lacks not only academic grounds, it ignores and disrespects the fact that every language in the world has evolved and is still evolving over the passage of time – including, of course, the fast-changing Cantonese dialect spoken in Hong Kong, the southern part of China, and the rest of the world in where Cantonese and the descendants of Cantonese are residing.
    As Maya Angelou, an American poet/actress once said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” Therefore, here are my suggestions alongside the other ones we have already seen and heard (e.g. stop subscribing to or sponsoring Fairchild TV, an everything BUT scrupulous TV station):
    1. Gather donations to develop an text and audio-based dictionary website similar to http://www.webster.com and use only the most commonly spoken pronunciations. This website will enable every Cantonese-speaking individual, including teachers of the language, to access and use as a guide to speak and teach the language – no matter where they happen to be on this planet. Similar to IETF, an organization that helps develop Internet standards, an RFC (Request for Comments) page can be used to correct any possible errors before pronunciation of every of the 30,000+ words is standardized.
    2. Conduct regular meetings with “edutainment” value (e.g. at restaurants, libraries’ meeting rooms, etc.) to systematically discuss, record, and summarize the proper pronunciations and submit the event logs to authorities such as the Education Departments of Hong Kong and Guangzhou (Kwong Chau).
    3. Urge the Chinese University of Hong Kong to start a debating session with various Cantonese scholars, including Mr. Wong and Mr. Ho of course, to defend Ho’s work. The debating session should be broadcast live over the Internet and inputs from callers or bloggers should be invited. Any scholar or researcher has to rise up to the challenge and defend his/her work. In this case, Richard Ho doesn’t have a choice because the impact of his linguistic work on the Cantonese communities in the world is just too far reaching – that is, catastrophically far reaching!
    The above will be edited and sent to The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Fairchild Radio, as well as Omni TV hoping that this will elicit some kind of response from them.
    Again, my apologies for not being able to translate and submit this article in Chinese due to my time constraint. By the way, 恭喜發財 to everyone!!!!!

  10. Well said, 獨孤求丙!
    I like your idea to write to the Globe and Mail. The voice of the general public (of cantonese speaking) must be heard. The fact is that these media corporations have control over what version of Cantonese they prefer to broadcast. We, as the audience, have no say over the matter. Ironically, their version is definitely different from the one that is generally spoken.

    In response to “bias", I am sorry that I did not clarify myself. As far as I know, there are only two schools of thoughts on the pronounciation of the Cantonese dialect. Unless I am mistaken, Fairchild and other TV stations have definitely taken their “position" on one version, which in my opinion is quite different from that of the general public. So, Connie Sephton says they don’t want to take any position on that. Did she try to fool the G&M reporter or be ambiguous by murmuring a “politically correct" cliche that makes no sense at all.
    Come on, give me a break! All media stations have the social responsibilty to explain their position. Her response is just plain nonsense. Sure I have a position but that does not mean I am biased. Like 獨孤求丙 says, the issue needs a group of scholars to debate on the issue. Why Dr. Ho has the absolute authority on the version? Those media corporations who already take a position are just too chicken to come out to defend their position and face the real issue.

    When Dr. Ho preached his version, I was too small to even question about it. However, we should not let that linger for as long as it’s taken.

  11. Bias, 跟據 Dictionary.com, 為 “a particular tendency or inclination, esp. one that prevents unprejudiced consideration of a question". 我真摸不着頭腦, cytodex 說 Connie Sephton 己經採用其中一種廣府話發音己有預設立場, 此乃鐵一般之事實, 又何來有 bias 呢?
    我上面篇投訴文, 已經 sent 到上列之傳媒機構, 正等待各方回答。 電郵內要求 Fairchild 對 Connie Sephton 之不付責任的言論進行內部處分及公開道歉。 再看事情發展如何吧。

  12. 土庫佬聽收機啦,用針篤下祖宗根啦,篤得多,豬年生個豬仔咯

  13. Thanks, 獨孤求丙. I hope your letter gets published so it can present a balanced view from those of cantonese-speaking general public. Not that I hope it will change things overnight. The silence of media corporations suggests they know they have the upper hand. Their tactic is to wait for the issue to fade away or become less interesting. If one agrees with the grassroot movement by Mr. Wong (Mr. Tam to be accurate) should carry on, he/she should stand on his/her ground. The more people question about the validity of the present pronounciation versus Mr. Wong’s; the greater awareness will be raised. I hope it could pick up some steam in H.K and elsewhere cantonese is spoken.

  14. 豬年流流,別傷和氣

  15. so much english to read in this forum

    that is crazy,Simon

  16. What’s old is new again? Why people bring this up now, yet again? The whole thing about the pronunication first “started" around 1993/1994 or something. I thought people “stopped" bothering with it a long time ago.

    I can see the Europeans are laughing at us. The mainstream newspaper published that story not because they gave a dam about it, but because they found it amazing how the “bastard" childs of a former British colony couldn’t speak their own language after they were re-united with their own people.



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