Penang, Malaysia, is reportedly moving to adopt the Penang dialect of the Hokkien language as a thing of “nonmaterial cultural heritage” (fēi wùzhì wénhuà yíchǎn / 非物质文化遗产).
In Taiwan, Hokkien is also known as “Taiwanese” and “Hoklo.”
The chairman of the Penang Tourism and Creative Economy Affairs Committee said that to preserve Hokkien in Penang, the government there would support a “Speak Hokkien” campaign and allocate funds to NGOs and other groups for activities promoting Hokkien. He also hopes organizations will host competitions not only in Pinyin(!) but also in speaking topolects.
Topolects are an important part of the legacy of Chinese culture, he said.
Other Sinitic topolects (fangyan) could also be considered for nonmaterial cultural heritage status, he said.
Whether this really happens, and whether it will be enough to make a difference, remains to be seen. But at least it looks like someone influential in Penang is working hard to move things in the right direction.
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