When I spotted The Seattle Times story about the Confucius Institute officially opening in Seattle to further Mandarin studies, I perked up. Knowing more languages always opens doors.
The Institute, as the Times reported, has ties to China’s Ministry of Education. But I also thought of a saying in Chinese: One eye open, one eye closed.
The way I interpret it, it means that you keep one eye closed in case, well, things that might be questionable pop up but you still want a long-term relationship. Yes, you look the other way.
You keep one eye open whenever the news, information or financial offer will benefit you.
I have long argued that better relations between the United States and China are needed, that large-scale tensions between the two countries will have an adverse effect and innocent people in both countries will be caught in the middle.
Enough people sent me The New York Times story about the changing face - or shift from Cantonese to Mandarin - in New York Chinatown and other places in the United States with large ethnic Chinese populations.
So, I thought I’d use English to join the conversation.
My uncle, Bill Wong, provided thoughtful analysis based on his experience of growing up in Oakland Chinatown – where historically Cantonese (Guangzhouhua) or the Taishan dialect (Taishanhua) can be heard.
Interestingly, given what I’ve learned while studying at Chinese universities, I’m using the Mandarin pinyin spellings for the Cantonese and the Taishan dialects.
Really, given my ancestral ties to Guangdong province, I should be using different spellings. Something similar to: Kwangtung or Toisan.
So, why the rise of Mandarin in places in the world - which largely had Cantonese because immigrants from Guangdong province were some of the first to leave?