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The Cover of “The Little Prince in Cantonese”. Credits

“The Little Prince” has been translated into written Cantonese!  According to the translator, Thomas Tsoi, the book is going to be released at the end of February.

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In Written Cantonese. Credits
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In Written Cantonese. Credits

Thomas Tsoi, a school teacher, explained his decision on translating the classic:

From the Editor

From ‘The Little Prince’ to Cantonese

(2nd paragraph) I’ve something to tell my readers before the book release, especially to the younger ones, because they might not understand the meaning behind the written Cantonese version of “The Little Prince”

Besides my love for the classic, another reason sparked my thought on publishing the book is my love for language. As a linguophile, I collect different versions of “The Little Prince”. During the collecting process, I noticed one thing – Both Germany and Italy printed the classic in dozens of local dialects. For instance, in Italy, besides standard Italian version, there are also Venetian, Neapolitan , Sicilian, etc. On the other hand, in China, which is 30 times larger than Italy, you can’t find any dialectal versions. Yes! None! And inside the pan-Chinese sphere, the only dialectal version is “The Little Prince Hakka”, which is published by Taiwan.

In fact, due to political reason, the Chinese government bans the use of dialects. To print a dialectal book in China is harder than we have ever thought. Last week, a school in Guangzhou published a textbook teaching Cantonese and later was accused of “inciting subversion”. Today, Tibetan Tashi Wangchuck from Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture is charged with “inciting subversion” for promoting the Tibetan language and may face 15-year imprisonment if indicted.

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The Cantonese textbook that “incites subversion”. Credits: Cable TV News

Even though Cantonese is still widely used in Hong Kong, the preservation of the Cantonese language is a tough battle, as Hong Kong government actively campaigns for the use of Mandarin in schools and the Chinese government exerts its influence. In fact, because of the same strategy, many young Shanghainese don’t speak Shanghainese anymore. If we don’t protect the Cantonese language, it may only survive in ethnic Chinese communities in Canada, as the foreign media predicted.

Therefore, Hong Kong, the bridgehead for the Cantonese language, must release “The Little Prince in Cantonese”. I don’t think the book will be a cash cow. In fact, I will probably lose money. For my love of “The Little Prince”, and for my love of Hong Kong and the Cantonese language, it’s worth the money. After releasing the book, I’ll create a website, uploading the whole book for free. Of course I hope you’ll buy the book. However, if you really don’t want to buy it, you can wait for the website. At that time, please help promoting it!