What prompted me to promote Cantonese
What prompted me to research into and promote Cantonese in the first place can be traced back to 1998, when I was teaching translation at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. At that time, I met one of my colleagues, Dr. Robert Bauer, an expert in Cantonese phonology, originally from the United States. Instantly, we became good friends. Witnessing this white gentleman’s unfailing dedication to Cantonese studies and remarkable achievements in the area, I thought that as a native speaker of Cantonese, I should also do something for the language. So I began to collect information and materials concerning the correct writing forms and elegant origins of so-called colloquial Cantonese characters and phrases and to engage myself in an academic research on the possible role of Cantonese in Chinese translations of Western romance literature.
Subsequently, between 2008 and 2013, when I was with the University of Eastern Finland, I was responsible for a research project investigating Hong Kong Cantonese translations of Western drama. When I returned from Finland to Hong Kong in 2013, I noticed that the status of Cantonese in Hong Kong was in danger, as a consequence of the Hong Kong Government’s encouraging with financial means local schools to teach the Chinese subject in Putonghua. Under such circumstances, making use of the materials that I had collected over the years, I started to compile The Elegant Cantonese Dictionary at the beginning of 2015 and published Part I of it in the middle of 2016.
As a result of my research, I have found that Cantonese is an elegant language, rather than an uncouth dialect, that it is an important carrier of orthodox Chinese culture, and that it deserves to be introduced to Westerners who are interested in genuine Chinese legacy, and who would like to learn about Hong Kong culture which organically combines orthodox Chinese and Western cultures.