TEACHING SUGGESTIONS

Language or history teachers can demonstrate dialect distance by playing a sound recording, and asking students how much they understand. To test intelligibilty, ask students to translate orally, or to write down all they understand in characters. Try again, with systematically repeated listenings, and systematic guessing of word meaning.

Students can attempt phonemic transcription in characters. For phonetic analysis, students can try phonetic transcription, attempt to discover the tone system, tone sandhi, or phonemic system.

For syntactic analysis, have students compare one feature such topicalization, time-aspect, noun classifiers, or word order in one transcript from two or three dialects. For semantic analysis, look for partial overlaps in word meaning between more archaic or regional phrases. For sociolinguistic insights, do a matched guise test of language attitudes, analyse the mood particles, or the amount of code mixing with Mandarin or Cantonese.

Differences between spoken and written language can be demonstrated easily by comparing the short idea units with an edited written description, done by the students themselves. The difficulties of writing dialects in characters and in romanization can also be tested by asking students to try transcribing a sample, then compare it among themselves.

Students can also use the film to elicit new stories from male versus female classmates, from elderly family members, less educated speakers or children. They can also get more culturally rich information by asking speakers what should happen to the boys for stealing the fruit, or to tell a different story from the point of view of the boys, the girl, the farmer - or even the goat.