Experience · Interest

Chinese but not Speak Chinese

In Jakarta, most of Chinese don’t speak Chinese and they just speak Bahasa Indonesia. Those Chinese usually called as Kao seng (Chinese who don’t speak Chinese language). Kao seng has perfect pitch in speaking Bahasa but illiterate in Chinese and not able to speak Chinese dialect. it really opposite with Medan Chinese. In here, Chinese people speak dialect everyday in daily life even other minority such as Indian also able to speak Chinese.

So, I have cousin who are not speak Chinese even born with Chinese parent and living in Medan. He and his sister spoke perfect pitch Bahasa while me and other cousin who speaking using dialect were so bad in pronounce Bahasa without our Chinese tongue. Sadly, my old-fashioned granny disliked her grand children who are not able to speak Chinese. she was so strict with both of those brother and sister. I remembered how my aunty and uncle being lectured by granny because they didn’t teach their children Chinese.

My Granny always stereotypes that those who couldn’t speak Chinese is not “real” Chinese and even worst than peranakan (inter-marriage children). For my granny if Chinese not able to speak Chinese, it means they are disgrace their family by forgetting the one essential as group of ethnic/race. languages is types of identity of who you are, where you come from, etc. that’s why my granny displeased when hearing her children or grand children speaking others languages than Chinese in her house.

I couldn’t blame my cousin who can’t speak Chinese because their parent was so busy and leaving them in care with nanny who was native Indonesian. But, in Medan if Chinese can’t speak Chinese, the probability being bullied is higher. the discrimination through verbal is the most.

I don’t know whether kao seng is harsh word or not for the Chinese who don’t speak Chinese but in Medan “Huana Khia” kind of harsh word for those whom not able to speak Chinese.

As for me, I am so grateful because how busy my parent was, they would always having time for me, they speak everyday to me even with different dialects. In the result sometimes, I even don’t realise which dialect I am using when speaking with others and mixing the words are very common for me XD

So how about you?
Are you speaking dialects?


2 thoughts on “Chinese but not Speak Chinese

    1. I also don’t speak Chinese-Mandarin (中文) but I got a chance to learn it after the politic in Indonesia changed. Even I blind with Mandarin, I was taught Hakka, Hokkain, etc when I was small, verbally by my parent 🙂

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