Learning a Dialect of Your Mother Tongue

The Boston Globe, February 26, 2009
A new accent in Chinatown
Mandarin begins displacing Cantonese as dialect of choice
By Maria Sacchetti

[...]Say hello - or better yet, ni hao - to Chinatown's rapidly expanding language, Mandarin. The official language of mainland China is sweeping into Cantonese-speaking enclaves across the United States, the result of increased immigration from across China and an urgent push by parents to teach children the language of one of the world's most powerful nations.[...]

[...]Others say it is reviving old tensions over class differences. For decades, working-class Cantonese speakers who followed a chain of relatives from Southern China to Boston to work in factories, laundromats, and restaurants tended to have less education and were poorer than other Chinese immigrants who settled more recently in the suburbs, where Mandarin was more widely spoken.

"There's a little bit of resentment toward Mandarin becoming more important - 'Oh, the Mandarin speakers have the money, the Mandarin speakers have the education, now the Mandarin speakers are taking over our school, too,' " said Peter Kiang, director of the Asian American Studies Program at UMass-Boston, citing concerns he has heard in the community.[...]