Video draws flak for wrong use of Mandarin

A Speak Mandarin Campaign video has been criticised for promoting the wrong use of the language.
A Speak Mandarin Campaign video has been criticised for promoting the wrong use of the language. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM FACEBOOK

A Speak Mandarin Campaign video has drawn some flak for its erroneous teaching.

The video, produced by the Speak Mandarin Campaign and the National University of Singapore (NUS) Chinese Drama, shows a woman teaching her friend the right use of classifiers for nouns such as apple, paper and clothing.

A classifier is used in East Asian languages such as Chinese and Japanese when nouns are being counted.

In the video, the woman corrects her friend's use of "yi ge" to "yi li" for apple and ball, saying "yi li" should be used for all round objects.

The video, posted on Wednesday on the Speak Mandarin Campaign Facebook page, has since attracted comments and was shared by various users, including Chinese radio station 95.8FM.

 

Many said it was embarrassing that the campaign was promoting the wrong use of Mandarin.

Responding to The Sunday Times, the Speak Mandarin Campaign said: "NUS Chinese Drama will follow up with another video to address usage of 'ge' and 'li'."

Dr Kang Ger-Wen, a Chinese studies lecturer, said the NUS Chinese Drama students had good intentions but were teaching the wrong things.

"Normally, for small and tiny things, we use 'yi li' or 'yi ke'. For an apple, it should be 'yi ge'."

But if one were to translate from Hokkien, which would use "ji liap", then it would be "yi li", he added.

However, a Chinese-language teacher who declined to be named said students here are taught to use "yi li" for apples and balls.

Kok Xing Hui

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 12, 2017, with the headline 'Video draws flak for wrong use of Mandarin'. Print Edition | Subscribe