Penang Hokkien: Our Language, Our Heritage


GEORGE TOWN: The Penang State Heritage Commissioner organized a highly anticipated event today, titled “Penang Hokkien: Our Language, Our Heritage,” to commemorate and celebrate the rich cultural tapestry of Penang. The event, held at Penang City Hall, attracted a diverse audience eager to explore and honor the linguistic and historical significance of Penang Hokkien.

The proceedings kicked off with an opening address from caretaker Penang State EXCO Tourism & Creative Economy, Yeoh Soon Hin. Hin underscored the significance of preserving and promoting Penang’s linguistic legacy as an indispensable facet of the state’s cultural identity. He emphasized the profound value of Penang Hokkien in nurturing a sense of belonging and unity among the people of Penang.

Following Hin’s inspiring oration, the stage was graciously taken over by Penang State Caretaker Chief Minister, Chow Kon Yeow, who delivered the event’s momentous launching speech. Yeow expressed his immense pride in Penang’s cultural diversity and the profound importance of Penang Hokkien as an integral part of the state’s historical tapestry. He graciously acknowledged the tireless efforts of the Penang State Heritage Commissioner and the dedicated contributors in organizing the event and furthering the cause of preserving Penang Hokkien.

A notable highlight of the occasion was the official unveiling of the online Penang Hokkien Dictionary and the Learn Penang Hokkien YouTube Channel. These groundbreaking initiatives, introduced by the esteemed linguist and researcher Timothy Tye, seek to rejuvenate and safeguard the treasured Penang Hokkien language. The online dictionary serves as a comprehensive resource for language learners and enthusiasts, while the YouTube channel provides easily accessible and captivating content.

The Penang Hokkien Dictionary is available in 3 interfaces:

The Learn Penang Hokkien YouTube Channel:

The event unfolded with a series of captivating talks delivered by distinguished speakers, each shedding light on various aspects of Penang Hokkien and its cultural significance. Dr. Wong Yee Tuan from New Era University enraptured the audience with an illuminating discourse on the historical migration of Hokkien speakers and the establishment of thriving business networks in Penang.

Dato’ Cheah Swee Huat, former chairman of the esteemed Cheah Kongsi, regaled the audience with captivating tales and profound insights into the illustrious history of the renowned Cheah Clan.

Exploring the gastronomic heritage of Penang, Pearly Kee presented a captivating talk on the art of Penang cuisine, showcasing the unique flavors and culinary techniques that make it a delightful gastronomic experience.

Lillian Tong from the renowned Pinang Peranakan Mansion mesmerized the audience with her presentation on the elegance of the Penang Nyonya Kebaya, a traditional attire that beautifully reflects the amalgamation of Malay and Chinese cultures in Penang.

The event also delved into the literary aspects of Penang Hokkien, as Madam Teoh Gaik Hong delivered a thought-provoking discourse on Penang Hokkien storytelling. Through engaging narratives, she explored the theme “Which is more valuable: dead or alive?” and exemplified the profound impact of storytelling in preserving cultural heritage.

To address the challenges associated with effective writing in Penang Hokkien, Timothy Tye returned to the stage to share his profound insights on creating a practical writing system for the language. Tye’s expertise and unwavering dedication to preserving Penang Hokkien shone through as he outlined strategies for developing an accessible writing system that would benefit language learners and future generations.

The “Penang Hokkien: Our Language, Our Heritage” event provided a remarkable platform for Penangites and language enthusiasts to congregate and embrace the rich cultural heritage encapsulated by Penang Hokkien. Through innovative initiatives, engaging discussions, and exploration of various dimensions of the language, the event served as a testament to the unwavering commitment to preserve and revitalize Penang Hokkien for generations to come.

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