Really simple examples from relatively recent changes: Who here can use the word ‘whom’ without feeling like a dork?
I guess many speakers of English, including me, are dorks then. Whom
is still in general use among speakers of standard English in my experience.
When you say "better than" does it sound more like "better then?"
Now you're talking about pronunciation which is another matter. On the other hand, if you want to write acceptable standard English you would not write: Wine is better then
beer. That would be considered clearly wrong.
Or, (and I don’t know how this applies outside of the PRC- let me know, thanks!) in relaxed conversation, how do you personally pronounce 谁? How do you pronounce 의 in 존재의 이유? Same example, is it easier to say 재 or 제?
I’m glad to see that people on this board refer to Hakka and Cantonese as languages as opposed to dialects. The classification of languages into families or dialectical branches, while usually a blast, can never be definite or even ‘scientific.’
Isn't the above position a bit simplistic?
All languages are made up by their speakers over time- end of story.
More like the beginning.
Think of how you learn languages- you’re born, you hear people around you talking, you start imitating what you hear, and after a while you pick it up. Things change and you pass that on to the people you come into contact with. Language, like culture, depends purely on context. Nobody speaks Mandarin because they’re Han by ‘ethnicity,’ or even because they happened to be born within certain borders. This of course applies to all languages everywhere.
And the point is. . . .
All the so-called ‘differences’ and our neat little categories for organizing them, are usually politically derived.
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Is it "political" or "linguistic" to label French French and Italian Italian? (And, no, a French person cannot easily understand an Italian, but a Parisian can easily understand someone from Marseille not to mention a French-speaking Haitian.)
A frequently quoted example comes from northern Europe, where speakers of Norwegian, Swedish and Danish, which we’d assume are all separate languages since, hey, that’s three different countries, are easily able to communicate with each other.
No, it isn't that simple. They cannot communicate with each other as easily as, say, Americans, British, and Australians.
Going slightly south to Germany, which we might be tempted to view as a unified nation and a single ‘ethnicity,’ it turns out that speakers of ‘German’ in certain areas of this pretty small country (at least when compared to the PRC) are completely unable to understand each other.
These are regional dialects. People use them optionally, although not as much as, say, a century ago.
The ‘German Language’ is just a political label.
No, it is not "just a poliltical label". It is linguistic too. Nearly all speakers of German know standard German and can easily communicate with each other. It is called Hochdeutsch.
It's been like that for a long time. And its origins are less political than religious/cultural. Hochdeutsch
is the kind of German Luther used to translate the Bible from Latin.
Obviously in the PRC (and pretty much every other country where ‘cultural heritage’ helps to keep the government in power, which unfortunately in the modern world is just about every country), it’s the same deal, and you can’t refer to Wu or Yue as separate languages because apparently that threatens national security and the disrupts the unity of the motherland.
This sounds to me like a political or
cultural matter. In the case of the latter it is may reflect the desire to have an indentifiable Chinese culture rather than only maintaining a political status quo.