Lend it an ear
RACHEL ABRAMOWITZ’S article about Gong Li contained this comment: “Chinese -- not the most sonorous language to Western ears ... “
This was extremely offensive to me, as she made no effort to distinguish between the hundreds of dialects in Chinese -- particularly between Mandarin and Cantonese -- and instead generalized the Chinese language as not being sonorous “to Western ears.”
Though Mandarin and Cantonese share the same written language, they sound absolutely nothing alike. I am fluent in Mandarin and am not able to understand a single word in Cantonese. My bet is that whatever bad experience Abramowitz had with Cantonese that inspired her to write this shockingly generalized comment misled her into thinking all “Chinese” language sounds the same. Ah, ignorance.
I am disappointed that this type of comment can appear on the first page of the Calendar section. How could it not have occurred to her that such a generalized and degrading comment may influence a person who has yet to formulate his or her own perception of the pleasantness of the “Chinese” language?