Local Chinese Dialects and Toponym of The Chinese Streets in Sibu, Sarawak


Author: Wong Ling Yann (Department of Foreign Languages, Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia)
Speaker:Wong Ling Yann
Topic: Language, Dialect, Sociolect, Genre
CALA 2020 General Session


Abstract

This paper aims to investigate naming categories, structural formation, syllables and alphabetic characteristics of Chinese streets in Sibu, Sarawak. Sibu represents the third biggest city in Sarawak. The Foochow people are one of the main ethnicities in Sibu, thus naming Sibu as “New Foochow” or “Little Foochow”. The Foochow culture and dialect play an important role in developing the history of Sibu. One of the significant influences of the Foochow culture and dialect towards the history of Sibu is the Chinese naming of the city streets in the town area. Naming of the Chinese streets is based on an oral agreement among the local people who are living in that area, where normally, naming can reflect the characteristics of the dominant culture of the local people. Naming of Chinese streets in Sibu is not directly translated from the official names given by the Sibu local government, but is based on various sources which connected to the local history and migrant Foochow people in China to Sibu.

This study adopts a qualitative research methodology to collect and analyse research data, where a historical comparative study is adopted to study the naming categories, the structural formation, syllables and alphabetic characteristics of the Chinese streets in Sibu. The research objectives of this study can be summarized as three: To investigate the methods adopted by the Sibu local people/authority/government in naming the Chinese streets in Sibu; to analyse structural formations of the Chinese streets in Sibu; and to summarize the syllables used for naming the Chinese streets and the alphabetic characteristics of the Chinese streets with relation to the dialects of the local Chinese respondents in Sibu. In parallel with the research objectives, the research intends to probe the questions: (1) What kinds of methods are employed by the Sibu local people/authority/government in naming the Chinese streets in Sibu? (2) How can ethnological information related to the local history of Sibu be reflected through the structural formation of the Chinese streets in Sibu? (3) What types of Chinese dialects would be used to form the alphabetic names of the Chinese streets in Sibu? Through these questions and their responses, the study takes an anthropological perspective on how the Foochow people name the Chinese streets in Sibu.

Keywords: Sibu, Chinese streets, toponym, Chinese dialects, naming categories, formation structure, phonetic characteristics